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The Bodies of Space — Their arrangements and formation 1 
Constituent materials of the Earth, and of the other 

Bodies of Space 27 

The Earth formed — Era of the Primary Rocks ... 44 
Conmiencement of Organic Life — Sea Plants, Corals, &c. 54 
Era of the Old Red Sandstone — Fishes abundant ... 66 
Secondary Rocks — Era of the Carboniferous Formation 

— Land formed — Commencement of Land Plants . 76 
Era of the New Red Sandstone — Terrestrial Zoology 

commences with Reptiles — First traces of Birds . 94 
Era of the Oolite — Commencement of Mammalia . . .105 

Era of the Cretaceous Formation 116 

Era of the Tertiary Formation — Mammalia abundant . 125 
Era of the Superficial Formations — Commencement of 

present Species 134 

General Considerations respecting the Origin of the 

Animated Tribes 145 



Particular Considerations respecting the Origin of the 

Animated Tribes 165 

Hypothesis of the Development of the Vegetable and 

Animal Kingdoms 191 

Macleay System of Animated Nature — This System 
considered in connexion with the Progress of 
Organic Creation, and as indicating the natural 
status of Man 236 

Early History of Mankind 277 

IMental Constitution of Animals 324 

Purpose and General Condition of the Animated 

Creation 361 

Note Conclusory 387 



It is familiar knowledge that the earth which we 
inhabit is a globe of somewhat less than 8000 miles 
in diameter, being one of a series of eleven which 
revolve at different distances around the sun, and 
some of which have satellites in like manner re- 
volving around them. The sun, planets, and 
satelHtes, with the less intelligible orbs termed 
comets, are comprehensively called the solar sys- 
tem, and if we take as the uttermost bounds of this 
system the orbit of Uranus (though the comets 
actually have a wider range), we shall find that it 
occupies a portion of space not less than three 
thousand six hundred millions of miles in extent. 
The mind fails to form an exact notion of a portion 
of space so immense; but some faint idea of it 
may be obtained from the fact, that, if the swiftest 


race-horse ever known had begun to traverse it, at 
full speed, at the time of the birth of Moses, he 
would only as yet have accomplished half his 

It has long been concluded amongst astronomers, 
that the stars, though they only appear to our eyes 
as brilliant points, are all to be considered as suns, 
representing so many solar systems, each bearing 
a general resemblance to our own. The stars 
have a brilliancy and apparent magnitude which 
^ve may safely presume to be in proportion to their 
actual size and the distance at which they are 
placed from us. Attempts have been made to 
ascertain the distance of some of the stars by cal- 
culations founded on parallax, it being previously 
understood that, if a parallax of so much as one 
second, or the 3600th of a degree, could be ascer- 
tained in any one instance, the distance might be 
assumed in that instance as not less than 19,200 
millions of miles ! In the case of the most bril- 
liant star, Sirius, even this minute parallax could 
not be found ; from which of course it was to be 
inferred that the distance of that star is something 
beyond the vast distance which has been stated. 
In some others, on which the experiment has been 
tried, no sensible parallax could be detected ; from 


which the same inference was to be made in their 
case. But a sensible parallax of about one second 
has been ascertained in the case of the double 
star, a a, of the constellation of the Centaur,* and 
one of the third of that amount for the double star, 
61 Cygni; which gave reason to presume that the 
distance of the former might be about twenty thou- 
sand millions of miles, and the latter of much greater 
amount. If we suppose that similar intervals 
exist between all the stars, we shall readily see that 
the space occupied by even the comparatively 
small number visible to the naked eye, must be 
vast beyond all powers of conception. 

The number visible to the eye is about three 
thousand ; but when a telescope of small power is 
directed to the heavens, a great number more come 
into view, and the number is ever increased in 
proportion to the increased power of the instru- 
ment. In one place, where they are more thickly 
sown than elsewhere, Sir William Herschel reck- 
oned that fifty thousand passed over a field of 
view two degrees in breadth in a single hour. It 
was first surmised by the ancient philosopher, 
Democritus, that the faintly white zone which 

* By Mr. Henderson, Professor of Astronomy in the Edin- 
burgh University, and Lieutenant Meadows. 

B 2 


spans the sky under the name of the Milky Way, 
miffht be only a dense collection of stars too remote 
to be distinguished. This conjecture has been 
verified by the instruments of modem astronomers, 
and some speculations of a most remarkable kind 
have been formed in connexion with it. By the 
joint labours of the two Herschels, the sky has 
been " gauged" in all directions by the telescope, 
so as to ascertain the conditions of different parts 
with respect to the frequency of the stars. The 
result has been a conviction that, as the planets 
are parts of solar systems, so are solar systems parts 
of what may be called astral systems — that is, 
systems composed of a multitude of stars, bearing 
a certain relation to each other. The astral sys- 
tem to which we belong, is conceived to be of an 
oblong, flattish form, with a space wholly or com- 
paratively vacant in the centre, while the extremity 
in one direction parts into two. The stai's are 
most thickly sown in the outer parts of this vast 
ring, and these constitute the Milky Way. Our 
sun is believed to be placed in the southern por- 
tion of the ring, near its inner edge, so that we 
are presented with many more stars, and see the 
Milky Way much more clearly, in that direction, 
than towards the north, in which line our eye has 


to traverse the vacant central space. Nor is this all. 
Sir WiUiam Herschel, so early as 1783, detected 
a motion in our solar system with respect to the 
stars, and annomiced that it was tending towards 
the star X, in the constellation Hercules. This has 
been generally verified by recent and more exact 
calculations,* which fix on a point in Hercules, 
near the star 143 of the 17th hour, according 
to Piozzi's catalogue, as that towards which our 
sun is proceeding. It is, therefore, receding from 
the inner edge of the ring. Motions of this kind, 
through such vast regions of space, must be long 
in producing any change sensible to the inha- 
bitants of our planet, and it is not easy to grasp 
their general character ; but grounds have never- 
theless been found for supposing that not only our 
sun, but the other suns of the system pursue a wavy 
course round the ring from west to east, crossing 
and recrossing the middle of the annular circle. 
" Some stars will depart more, others less, from 
either side of the circumference of equilibrium, 
according to the places in which they are situated, 
and according to the direction and the velocity 
with which they are put in motion. Our sun is 

* Made by M. Argelander, late director of the Observatory at 


probably one of those which depart furthest from 
it, and descend furthest into the empty space 
within the ring."* According to this view, a time 
may come when we shall be much more in the 
thick of the stars of our astral system than we 
are now, and have of course much more brilliant 
nocturnal skies ; but it may be countless ages 
before the eyes which are to see this added re- 
splendence shall exist. 

The evidence of the existence of other astral 
systems besides our own is much more decided 
than might be expected, when we consider that the 
nearest of them must needs be placed at a mighty 
interval beyond our own. The elder Herschel, 
directing his wonderful tube towards the sides of 
our system, where stars are planted most rarely, and 
raising the powers of the instrument to the required 
pitch, was enabled with awe- struck mind to see 
suspended in the vast empyrean astral systems, or, 
as he called them, firmaments, resembling our 
own. Like light cloudlets to a certain power of 
the telescope, they resolved themselves, under a 
greater power, into stars, though these generally 

* Professor Mossotti, on the Constitution of the Sidereal Sys- 
tem, of which the Sun forms a part. — London, Edinburgh, and 
Dublin Philosophical Magazine, February, 1843. 


seemed no larger than the finest particles of dia- 
mond dust. The general forms of these systems 
are various ; but one at least has been detected as 
bearing a striking resemblance to the supposed 
form of our own. The distances are also various, 
as proved by the different degrees of telescopic 
power necessary to bring them into view. The 
farthest observed by the astronomer were esti- 
mated by him as thirty-five thousand times more 
remote than Sirius, supposing its distance to be 
about twenty thousand millions of miles. It would 
thus appear, that not only does gravitation keep our 
earth in its place in the solar system, and the 
solar system in its place in our astral system, but 
it also may be presumed to have the mightier duty 
of preserving a local arrangement between that 
astral system and an immensity of others, through 
which the imagination is left to wander on and on 
without limit or sta}^, save that which is given by 
its inability to grasp the unbounded. 

The two Herschels have in succession made 
some other most remarkable observations on the 
regions of space. They have found within the 
limits of our astral system, and generally in its 
outer fields, a great number of objects which, from 
their foggy appearance, are called nebulcB ; some 


of vast extent and irregular figure, as that in the 
sword of Orion, which is visible to the naked eye ; 
others of shape more defined; others, again, in 
which small bright nuclei appear here and there 
over the surface. Between this last form and an- 
other class of objects, which appear as clusters of 
nuclei with nebulous matter around each nucleus, 
there is but a step in what appears a chain of 
related things. Then, again, our astral space 
shews what are called nebulous stars, — namely, 
luminous spherical objects, bright in the centre 
and dull towards the extremities. These appear 
to be only an advanced condition of the class of 
objects above described. Finally, nebulous stars 
exist in every stage of concentration, down to that 
state in which we see only a common star with a 
slight bur around it. It may be presumed that all 
these are but stages in a progress, just as if, seeing 
a child, a boy, a youth, a middle-aged, and an old 
man together, we might presume that the whole 
were only variations of one being. Are we to 
suppose that we have got a glimpse of the process 
through which a sun goes between its original 
condition, as a mass of diffused nebulous matter, 
and its full-formed state as a compact body ? We 
shall see how far such an idea is supported by 


Other things known with regard to the occupants 
of space, and the laws of matter, 

A superficial view of the astronomy of the solar 
system gives us only the idea of a vast luminous body 
(the sun) in the centre, and a few smaller, though 
various sized bodies, revolving at different distances 
around it ; some of these, again, having smaller planets 
(satellites) revolving around them. There are, how- 
ever, some general features of the solar system, 
which, when a profounder attention makes us ac- 
quainted with them, strike the mind very forcibly. 

It is, in the first place, remarkable, that the 
planets all move nearly in one plane, correspond- 
ing with the centre of the sun's body. Next, 
it is not less remarkable that the motion of the 
sun on its axis, those of the planets around the 
sun, and the satellites around their primaries,* 
and the motions of all on their axes, are in one 
direction — namely, from west to east. Had all 
these matters been left to accident, the chances 
against the uniformity w^hich we find would have 

* The orbitual revolutions of the satellites of Uranus have not 
as yet been clearly scanned. It has been thought that their path 
is retrograde compared with the rest. Perhaps this may be 
owing to a bouleverseme?it of the primary, for the inclination of its 
equator to the ecliptic is admitted to be unusually high ; but the 
subject is altogether so obscure, that nothing can be founded on it. 



been, though calculable, inconceivably great 
Laplace states them at four millions of millions to 
one. It is thus powerfully impressed on us, that 
the uniformity of the motions, as well as their 
general adjustment to one plane, must have been 
a consequence of some cause acting throughout 
the whole system. 

Some of the other relations of the bodies are not 
less remarkable. The primary planets shew a 
progressive increase of bulk and diminution of 
density, from the one nearest to the sun to that 
which is most distant. With respect to density 
alone, we find, taking water as a measure and 
counting it as one, that Saturn is i|, or less than 
half; Jupiter, 1_'^ ; Mars,3|- ; Earth, 4J; Venus, 
5 Hi Mercury, 9-^%; or about the weight of lead. 
Then the distances are curiously relative. It has 
been found that if we place the following line of 
numbers, — ' 

3 6 12 24 48 96 192, 
and add 4 to each, we shall have a series denoting 
the respective distances of the planets from the 
sun. It will stand thus — 

4 7 10 16 28 52 100 196 

Merc. Venus. Earth. Mars. Jupiter. Saturn. Uranus. 

It will be observed that the first row of figures 


goes on from the second on the left hand in a suc- 
cession of daphcations, or multiplications by 2. 
Surely there is here a most surprising proof of the 
unity which I am claiming for the solar system. 
It was remarked when this curious relation was 
first detected, that there was a want of a planet 
corresponding to 28 ; the difficulty was afterwards 
considered as in a great measure overcome, by 
the discovery of four small planets revolving at 
nearly one mean distance from the sun, between 
Mars and Jupiter. The distances bear an equally 
interesting mathematical relation to the times of 
the revolutions round the sun. It has been found 
that, with respect to any two planets, the squares 
of the times of revolution are to each other in the 
same proportion as the cubes of their mean dis- 
tances, — a most surprising result, for the discovery 
of which the world was indebted to the illustrious 
Kepler. Sir John Herschel truly observes — 
" When we contemplate the constituents of the 
planetary system from the point of view which 
this relation affords us, it is no longer mere ana- 
logy which strikes us, no longer a general resem- 
blance among them, as individuals independent of 
each other, and circulating about the sun, each 
according to its own peculiar nature, and con- 


nected with it by its own peculiar tie. The 
resemblance is now perceived to be a ixwe family 
likeness; they are bound up in one chain — inter- 
woven in one web of mutual relation and harmo- 
nious agreement, subjected to one pervading 
influence which extends from the centre to the 
farthest limits of that great system, of which all of 
them, the Earth included, must henceforth be 
regarded as members."* 

Connecting what has been observed of the 
series of nebulous stars with this wonderful rela- 
tionship seen to exist among the constituents of 
our system, and further taking advantage of the 
light afforded by the ascertained laws of matter, 
modern astronomers have suggested the following 
hypothesis of the formation of that system. 

Of nebulous matter in its original state we 
know too little to enable us to suggest how nuclei 
should be established in it. But, supposing that, 
from a peculiarity in its constitution, nuclei are 
formed, we know very well how, by virtue of the 
law of gravitation, the process of an aggregation of 
the neighbouring matter to those nuclei should 
proceed, until masses more or less solid should 
become detached from the rest. It is a well- 

* Astronomy, Lardner's CyclopaBdia, 


known law in physics that, when fluid matter 
collects towards or meets in a centre, it establishes 
a rotatory motion. See minor results of this law 
in the whirlwind and the whirlpool — nay, on so 
humble a scale as the water sinking through the 
aperture of a funnel. It thus becomes certain that 
when we arrive at the stage of a nebulous star, 
we have a rotation on an axis commenced. 

Now, mechanical philosophy informs us that, 
the instant a mass begins to rotate, there is gene- 
rated a tendency to fling off" its outer portions — in 
other words, the law of centrifugal force begins to 
operate. There are, then, two forces acting in 
opposition to each other, the one attracting to, the 
other throwing from, the centre. While these 
remain exactly counterpoised, the mass neces- 
sarily continues entire ; but the least excess of the 
centrifogal over the attractive force would be at- 
tended with the effect of separating the mass and 
its outer parts. These outer parts would, then, be 
left as a ring round the central body, which ring 
would continue to revolve with the velocity pos- 
sessed by the central mass at the moment of sepa- 
ration, but not necessarily participating in any 
changes afterwards undergone by that body. This 
is a process which might be repeated as soon as a 


new excess arose in the centrifugal over the attrac- 
tive forces working in the parent mass. It might, 
indeed, continue to be repeated, until the mass 
attained the ultimate Hmits of the condensation 
which its constitution imposed upon it. From 
what cause might arise the periodical occurrence- 
of an excess of the centrifugal force ? If we sup- 
pose the agglomeration of a nebulous mass to be 
a process attended by refrigeration or cooling, 
which many facts render likely, we can easily 
understand why the outer parts, hardening under 
this process, might, by virtue of the greater soli- 
dity thence acquired, begin to present some resist- 
ance to the attractive force. As the solidification 
proceeded, this resistance would become greater, 
though there would still be a tendency to adhere. 
Meanwhile, the condensation of the central mass 
would be going on, tending to produce a separa- 
tion from what may now be termed the solidifying 
crust During the contention between the attrac- 
tions of these two bodies, or parts of one body, 
there would probably be a ring of attenuation 
between the mass and its crust. At length, when 
the central mass had reached a certain stage in its 
advance towards solidification, a separation would 
take place, and the crust would become a detached 


ring. It is clear, of course, that some law presid- 
ing over the refrigeration of heated gaseous bodies 
would determine the stages at which rings were 
thus formed and detached. We do not know any 
such law, but what we have seen assures us it is 
one observing and reducible to mathematical for- 

If these rings consisted of matter nearly uniform 
throughout, they would probably continue each in 
its original form; but there are many chances 
against their being uniform in constitution. The 
unavoidable effects of irregularity in their con- 
stitution would be to cause them to gather towards 
centres of superior solidity, by which the annular 
form would, of course, be destroyed. The ring 
would, in short, break into several masses, the 
largest of which would be likely to attract the 
lesser into itself The whole mass would then 
necessarily settle into a spherical form by virtue 
of the law of gravitation ; in short, would then 
become a planet revolving round the sun. Its 
rotatory motion would, of course, continue, and 
satellites might then be thrown off in turn from 
its body in exactly the same way as the primary 
planets had been thrown off from the sun. The 
rule, if I can be allowed so to call it, receives a 


Striking support from what appear to be its excep- 
tions. While there are many chances against the 
matter of the rings being sufficiently equable to 
remain in the annular form till they were con- 
solidated, it might nevertheless be otherwise in 
some instances; that is to say, the equableness 
might, in those instances, be sufficiently great. 
Such was probably the case with the two rings 
around the body of Saturn, which remain a living 
picture of the arrangement, if not the condition, 
in which all the planetary masses at one time 
stood. It may also be admitted that, when a ring 
broke up, it was possible that the fragments might 
spherify separately. Such seems to be the actual 
history of the ring between Jupiter and Mars, in 
whose place we now find four planets much be- 
neath the smallest of the rest in size, and moving 
nearly at the same distance from the sun, though 
in orbits so elliptical, and of such different planes, 
that they keep apart. 

It has been seen that there are mathematical 
proportions in the relative distances and revolu- 
tions of the planets of our system. It has also 
been suggested that the periods in the condensa- 
tion of the nebulous mass, at which rings were 
disengaged, must have depended on some par- 


ticular crises in the condition of that mass, in con- 
nexion with the laws of centrifugal force and 
attraction. M. Compte, of Paris, has made some 
approach to the verification of the hypothesis, by 
calculating what ought to have been the rotation 
of the solar mass at the successive times when its 
surface extended to the various planetary orbits. 
He ascertained that that rotation corresponded in 
every case with the actual sidereal revolution of the 
•planets, and that the rotation of the 'primary -planets 
in like manner corresponded with the orhitual periods 
of the secondaries. The process by which he arrived 
at this conclusion is not to be readily compre- 
hended by the unlearned ; but those who are 
otherwise, allow that it is a powerful support to the 
present hypothesis of the formation of the globes 
of space.* 

* M. Compte combined Huygens's theorems for the measure 
of centrifugal force with the law of gravitation, and thus formed 
a simple fundamental equation between the duration of the rota- 
tion of what he calls the producing star, and the distance of the 
star produced. The constants of this equation tvere the radius 
of the central star, and the intensity of gravity at its surface, 
which is a direct consequence of its mass. It leads directly to 
the third law of Kepler, which thus becomes susceptible of being 
conceived a priori in a cosmogonical point of view. M. Compte 
first applied it to the moon, and found, to his great delight, that 
the periodic time of that satellite agrees within an hour or two 


The nebular hypothesis, as it has been called, 
obtains a remarkable support in what would at 
first seem to militate against it — the existence in 
our firmament of several thousands of solar sys- 
tems, in which there are more than one sun. 
These are called double and triple stars. Some 
double stars, upon which careful observations have 
been made, are found to have a regular revolu- 
tionary motion round each other in ellipses. This 

with the duration which the revolution of the earth ought to have 
had at the time when the lunar distance formed the limit of the 
earth's atmosphere. He found the coincidence less exact, but 
still very striking in every other case. In those of the planets 
he obtained for the duration of the corresponding solar rotations 
a value always a little less than their actual periodic times. " It 
is remarkable," says he, •' that this difference, though increasing 
as the planet is more distant, preserves very nearly the same 
relation to the corresponding periodic time, of which it com- 
monly forms the forty -fifth part," — shewing, we may suppose, 
that only some small elements of the question had been over- 
looked by the calculator. The defect changes to an excess in 
the different systems of the satellites, where it is proportionally 
greater than in the planets, and unequal in the different systems. 
" From the whole of these comparisons," says he, " I deduced 
the following general result : — Supposing the mathematical limit 
of the solar atmosphere successively extended to the regions 
where the different planets are now found, the duration of the 
sun's rotation was, at each of these epochs, sensibly equal to that 
of the actual sidereal revolution of the corresponding planet ; and 
the same is true for each planetary atmosphere in relation to the 
different satellites." — Cours de Philosophie Positif. 


kind of solar system has also been observed in 
what appears to be its rudimental state, for there 
are examples of nebulous stars containing two and 
three nuclei in near association. At a certain 
point in the confluence of the matter of these 
nebulous stars, they would all become involved in 
a common revolutionary motion, linked inex- 
tricably with each other, though it might be at 
sufficient distances to allow of each distinct centre 
having afterwards its attendant planets. We have 
seen that the law which causes rotation in the 
single solar masses, is exactly the same which pro- 
duces the familiar phenomenon of a small whirl- 
pool or dimple in the surface of a stream. Such 
dimples are not always single. Upon the face of 
a river where there are various contending cur- 
rents, it may often be observed that two or more 
dimples are formed near each other with more or 
less regularity. These fantastic eddies, which the 
musing poet will sometimes watch abstractedly for 
an hour, little thinking of the law which produces 
and connects them, are an illustration of the won- 
ders of binary and ternary solar systems. 

The nebular hypothesis is, indeed, supported 
by so many ascertained features of the celestial 
scenery, and by so many calculations of exact 


science, that it is impossible for a candid mind to 
refrain from giving it a cordial reception, if not to 
repose full reliance upon it, even without seeking for 
it support of any other kind. Some other support I 
trust yet to bring to it ; but in the meantime, as- 
suming its truth, let us see what idea it gives of 
the constitution of what we term the universe, of 
the development of its various parts, and of its 
original condition. 

Reverting to a former illustration — if we could 
suppose a number of persons of various ages pre- 
sented to the inspection of an intelUgent being 
newly introduced into the world, we cannot doubt 
that he would soon become convinced that men 
had once been boys, that boys had once been in- 
fants, and, finally, that all had been brought into 
the world in exactly the same circumstances. 
Precisely thus, seeing in our astral system many 
thousands of worlds in all stages of formation, from 
the most rudimental to that immediately preceding 
the present condition of those we deem perfect, it 
is unavoidable to conclude that all the perfect 
have gone through the various stages which we 
see in the rudimental. This leads us at once to 
the conclusion that the whole of our firmament 
was at one time a diffused mass of nebulous mat- 


ter, extending through the space which it still 
occupies. So also, of course, must have been the 
other astral systems. Indeed, we must presume 
the whole to have been originally in one connected 
mass, the astral systems being only the first divi- 
sion into parts, and solar systems the second. 

The first idea which all this impresses upon us 
is, that the formation of bodies in space is still and 
at present in progress. We live at a time when 
many have been formed, and many are still forming. 
Our own solar system is to be regarded as com- 
pleted, supposing its perfection to consist in the 
formation of a series of planets, for there are 
mathematical reasons for concluding that Mercury 
is the nearest planet to the sun, which can, ac- 
cording to the laws of the system, exist. But 
there are other solar systems within our astral 
system, which are as yet in a less advanced state, 
and even some quantities of nebulous matter which 
have scarcely begun to advance towards the stellar 
form. On the other hand, there are vast numbers 
of stars which have all the appearance of being 
fully formed systems, if we are to judge from the 
complete and definite appearance which they pre- 
sent to our vision through the telescope. We have 
no means of judging of the seniority of systems ; 


but it is reasonable to suppose that, among the 
many, some are older than ours. There is, indeed, 
one piece of evidence for the probability of the com- 
parative youth of our system, altogether apart from 
human traditions and the geognostic appearances of 
the surface of our planet. This consists in a thin 
nebulous matter, which is diffused around the sun 
to nearly the orbit of Mercury, of a very oblately 
spheroidal shape. This matter, which sometimes 
appears to our naked eyes, at sunset, in the form of 
a cone projecting upwards in the line of the sun's 
path, and which bears the name of the Zodiacal 
Light, has been thought a residuum or last rem- 
nant of the concentrating matter of our system, 
and thus may be supposed to indicate the compa- 
rative recentness of the principal events of our 
cosmogony. Supposing the surmise and inference 
to be correct, and they may be held as so far sup- 
ported by more familiar evidence, we might with 
the more confidence speak of our system as not 
amongst the elder born of Heaven, but one whose 
various phenomena, physical and moral, as yet lay 
undeveloped, while myriads of others were fully 
fashioned and in complete arrangement. Thus, in 
the sublime chronology to which we are directing 
our inquiries, we first find ourselves called upon 


to consider the globe which we inhabit as a child 
of the sun, elder than Venus and her younger bro- 
ther Mercury, but posterior in date of birth to 
Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and Uranus ; next to regard 
our whole system as probably of recent formation 
in comparison with many of the stars of our firma- 
ment. We must, however, be on our guard against 
supposing the earth as a recent globe in our or- 
dinary conceptions of time. From evidence after- 
wards to be adduced, it will be seen that it cannot 
be presumed to be less than many hundreds of 
centuries old. How much older Uranus may be 
no one can tell, much less how more aged may be 
many of the stars of our firmament, or the stars of 
other firmaments than ours. 

Another and more important consideration 
arises from the hypothesis; namely, as to the 
means by which the grand process is conducted. 
The nebulous matter collects around nuclei by 
virtue of the law of attraction. The agglomera- 
tion brings into operation another physical law, by 
force of which the separate masses of matter are 
either made to rotate singly, or, in addition to that 
single motion, are set into a coupled revolution in 
ellipses. Next centrifugal force comes into play, 
flinging off portions of the rotating masses, which 


become spheres by virtue of the same law of 
attraction, and are held in orbits of revolution 
round the central bod}^ by means of a composition 
between the centrifugal and gravitating forces. 
All, we see, is done by certain laws of matter, so 
that it becomes a question of extreme interest, 
what are such laws ? All that can yet be said, in 
answer, is, that we see certain natural events pro- 
ceeding in an invariable order under certain con- 
ditions, and thence infer the existence of some 
fundamental arrangement which, for the bringing 
about of these events, has a force and certainty of 
action similar to, but more precise and unerring 
than those arrangements which human society 
makes for its own benefit, and calls laws. It is 
remarkable of physical laws, that we see them 
operating on every kind of scale as to magni- 
tude, with the same regularity and perseverance. 
The tear that falls from childhood's cheek is glo- 
bular, through the efficacy of that same law of 
mutual attraction of particles which made the 
sun and planets round. The rapidity of Mer- 
cury is quicker than that of Saturn, for the same 
reason that, when we wheel a ball round by a 
string and make the string wind up round our 
fingers, the ball always flies quicker and quicker as 


the String is shortened. Two eddies in a stream, 
as has been stated, fall into a mutual revolution at 
the distance of a couple of inches, through the 
same cause which makes a pair of suns link in 
mutual revolution at the distance of millions of 
miles. There is, we might say, a sublime sim- 
plicity in this indifference of the grand regulations 
to the vastness or minuteness of the field of their 
operation. Their being uniform, too, throughout 
space, as far as we can scan it, and their being so 
unfailing in their tendency to operate, so that only 
the proper conditions are presented, afford to our 
minds matter for the gravest consideration. Nor 
should it escape our careful notice that the regu- 
lations on which all the laws of matter operate, 
are established on a rigidly accurate mathematical 
basis. Proportions of numbers and geometrical 
figures rest at the bottom of the whole. All these 
considerations, when the mind is thoroughly pre- 
pared for them, tend to raise our ideas with re- 
spect to the character of physical laws, even 
though we do not go a single step further in the 
investigation. But it is impossible for an intelli- 
gent mind to stop there. We advance from law 
to the ^ause of law, and ask, What is that? 
Whence have come all these beautiful regulations? 



Here science leaves us, but only to conclude, from 
other grounds, that there is a First Cause to which 
all others are secondary and ministrative, a primi- 
tive almighty will, of which these laws are merely 
the mandates. That great Being, who shall say 
where is his dwelling-place, or what his history ! 
Man pauses breathless at the contemplation of a 
subject so much above his finite faculties, and only 
can wonder and adore ! 



The nebular hypothesis almost necessarily sup- 
poses matter to have originally formed one mass. 
We have seen that the same physical laws preside 
over the whole. Are we also to presume that the 
constitution of the whole was uniform ? — that is to 
say, that the whole consisted of similar elements. 
It seems difficult to avoid coming to this conclu- 
sion, at least under the qualification that, possibly, 
various bodies, under peculiar circumstances at- 
tending their formation, may contain elements 
which are wanting, and lack some which are pre- 
sent in others, or that some may entirely consist 
of elements in which others are entirely deficient. 
What are elements ? This is a term applied by 
the chemist to a certain limited number of sub- 


Stances, (fifty-four or fifty-five are ascertained,) 
which, in their combinations, form all the matters 
of every kind present in and about our globe. 
They are called elements, or simple substances, 
because it has hitherto been found impossible to 
reduce them into others, wherefore they are pre- 
sumed to be the primary bases of all matters. It 
has, indeed, been surmised that these so-called 
elements are only modifications of a primordial 
form of matter, brought about under certain con- 
ditions ; but if this should prove to be the case, it 
would little affect the view which we are taking of 
cosmical arrangements. Analogy would lead us 
to conclude that the combinations of the primor- 
dial matter, forming our so-called elements, are as 
universal or as liable to take place everywhere as 
are the laws of gravitation and centrifugal force. 
We must therefore presume that the gases, the 
metals, the earths, and other simple substances, 
(besides whatever more of which we have no ac- 
quaintance,) exist or are liable to come into exist- 
ence under proper conditions, as well in the 
astral system, which is thirty-five thousand times 
more distant than Sirius, as within the bounds of 
our own solar system or our own globe. 

Matter, whether it consist of about fifty-five in- 


gredients, or only one, is liable to infinite varieties 
of condition under different circumstances, or, to 
speak more philosophically, under different laws. 
As a familiar illustration, water, w^hen subjected to 
a temperature under 32° Fahrenheit, becomes ice ; 
raise the temperature to 212'', and it becomes 
steam, occupying a vast deal more space than it 
formerly did. The gases, when subjected to pres- 
sure, become liquids; for example, carbonic acid 
gas, when subjected to a weight equal to a column 
of water 1230 feet high, at a temperature of 32**, 
takes this form : the other gases require various 
amounts of pressure for this transformation, but all 
appear to be liable to it when the pressure proper 
in each case is administered. Heat is a power 
greatly concerned in regulating the volume and 
other conditions of matter. A chemist can reckon 
with considerable precision what additional amount 
of heat would be required to vaporise all the water 
of our globe ; how much more to disengage the 
oxygen which is diffused in nearly a proportion of 
one-half throughout its solids ; and, finally, how 
much more would be required to cause the whole 
to become vaporiform, which we may consider as 
equivalent to its being restored to its original 
nebulous state. He can calculate with equal cer- 


tainty what would be the effect of a considerable 
diminution of the earth's temperature — what 
changes would take place in each of its component 
substances, and how much the whole would shrink 
in bulk. 

The earth and all its various substances have at 
present a certain volume in consequence of the 
temperature which actually exists. When, then, 
we find that its matter and that of the associate 
planets was at one time diffused throughout the 
whole space, now circumscribed by the orbit of 
Uranus, we cannot doubt, after what we know of 
the power of heat, that the nebulous form of matter 
was attended by the condition of a very high 
temperature. The nebulous matter of space, 
previously to the formation of stellar and pla- 
netary bodies, must have been a universal Fire 
Mist, an idea which we can scarcely comprehend, 
though the reasons for arriving at it seem irre- 
sistible. The formation of systems out of this 
matter implies a change of some kind with regard 
to the condition of the heat. Had this power 
continued to act with its full original repulsive 
energy, the process of agglomeration by attraction 
could not have gone on. We do not know enough 
of the laws of heat to enable us to surmise how the 


necessary change in this respect was brought 
about, but we can trace some of the steps and 
consequences of the process. Uranus would be 
formed at the time when the heat of our system's 
matter was at the greatest, Saturn at the next, and 
so on. Now this taUies perfectly with the exceed- 
ing diffuseness of the matter of those elder planets, 
Saturn being not more dense or heavy than the 
substance cork. It may be that a sufficiency of 
heat still remains in those planets to make up for 
their distance from the sun, and the consequent 
smallness of the heat which they derive from his 
rays. And it may equally be, since Mercury is 
twice the density of the earth, that its matter 
exists under a degree of cold for which that 
planet's large enjoyment of the sun's rays is no 
more than a compensation. Thus there may be 
upon the whole a nearly equal experience of heat 
amongst all these children of the sun. Where, 
meanwhile, is the heat once diffused through the 
system over and above what remains in the 
planets ? May we not rationally presume it to 
have gone to constitute that luminous envelope 
of the sun, in which his warmth-giving power is 
now held to reside ? It could not be destroyed — 
it cannot be supposed to have gone off into space — 


it must have simply been reserved to constitute, at 
the last, a means of sustaining the many opera- 
tions of which the planets were destined to be the 

The tendency of the whole of the preceding 
considerations is to bring the conviction that our 
globe is a specimen of all the similarly-placed 
bodies of space, as respects its constituent matter 
and the physical and chemical laws governing it, 
with only this qualification, that there are possibly 
shades of variation with respect to the component 
materials, and undoubtedly with respect to the con- 
ditions under which the laws operate, and conse- 
quently the effects which they produce. Thus, 
there may be substances here which are not in 
some other bodies, and substances here solid may 
be elsewhere liquid or vaporiform. We are the 
more entitled to draw such conclusions, seeing 
that there is nothing at all singular or special in 
the astronomical situation of the earth. It takes 
its place third in a series of planets, which series is 
only one of numberless other systems forming one 
group. It is strikingly — if I may use such an ex- 
pression — a member of a democracy. Hence, we 
cannot suppose that there is any peculiarity about 
it which does not probably attach to multitudes of 


Other bodies — in fact, to all that are analogous 
to it in respect of cosmical arrangements. 

It therefore becomes a point of great interest — 
what are the materials of this specimen ? What is 
the constitutional character of this object, which 
may be said to be a sample, presented to our im- 
mediate observation, of those crowds of worlds 
which seem to us as the particles of the desert 
sand-cloud in number, and to whose profusion 
there are no conceivable local limits ? 

The solids, liquids, and aeriform fluids of our 
globe are all, as has been stated, reducible into 
fiftj-five substances hitherto called elementary. 
Six are gases; oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen 
being the chief Forty-two are metals, of which 
eleven are remarkable as composing, in combina- 
tion with oxygen, certain earths, as magnesia, lime, 
alumin. The remaining six, including carbon, 
silicon, sulphur, have not any general appellation. 

The gas oxygen is considered as by far the most 
abundant substance in our globe. It constitutes a 
fifth part of our atmosphere, a third part of water, 
and a large proportion of every kind of rock in the 
crust of the earth. Hydrogen, which forms two- 
thirds of water, and enters into some mineral sub- 
stances, is perhaps next. Nitrogen, of which the 
c 3 


atmosphere is four-fifths composed, must be con- 
sidered as an abundant substance. The metal si- 
licium, which unites with oxygen in nearly equal 
parts to form silica, the basis of nearly a half of 
the rocks in the earth's crust, is, of course, an im- 
portant ingredient. Aluminium, the metallic basis 
of alumin, a large material in many rocks, is 
another abundant elementary substance. So, also, 
is carbon a small ingredient in the atmosphere, but 
the chief constituent of animal and vegetable sub- 
stances, and of all fossils which ever were in the 
latter condition, amongst which coal takes a con- 
spicuous place. The familiarly-known metals, as 
iron, tin, lead, silver, gold, are elements of com- 
paratively small magnitude in that exterior part of 
the earth's body which we are able to investigate. 
It is remarkable of the simple substances that 
they are generally in some compound form. Thus, 
oxygen and nitrogen, though in union they form 
the aerial envelope of the globe, are never found 
separate in nature. Carbon is pure only in the dia- 
mond. And the metallic bases of the earths, though 
the chemist can disengage them, may well be sup- 
posed unlikely to remain long uncombined, seeing 
that contact with moisture makes them burn. Com- 
bination and re-combination are principles largely 


pervading nature. There are few rocks, for ex- 
ample, that are not composed of at least two va- 
rieties of matter, each of which is again a compound 
of elementary substances. What is still more won- 
derful with respect to this principle of combination, 
all the elementary substances observe certain ma- 
thematical proportions in their unions. One vo- 
lume of them unites with one, two, three, or more 
volumes of another, any extra quantity being sure 
to be left over, if such there should be. It is 
hence supposed that matter is composed of infi- 
nitely minute particles or atoms, each of which 
belonging to any one substance, can only (through 
the operation of some as yet hidden law) associate 
with a certain number of the atoms of any other. 
There are also strange predilections amongst sub- 
stances for each other's company. One will remain 
combined in solution with another, till a third is 
added, when it will abandon the former and attach 
itself to the latter. A fourth being added, the 
third will perhaps leave the first, and join the new 

Such is an outline of the information which 
chemistry gives us regarding the constituent ma- 
terials of our globe. How infinitely is the know- 
ledge increased in interest, when we consider the 


probability of such being the materials of the whole 
of the bodies of space, and the laws under which 
these everywhere combine, subject only to local 
and accidental variations ! 

In considering the cosmogenic arrangements of 
our globe, our attention is called in a special de- 
gree to the moon. 

In the nebular hypothesis, satellites are consi- 
dered as masses thrown off from their primaries, 
exactly as the primaries had previously been from 
the sun. The orbit of any satellite is also to be 
reo;arded as marking^ the bounds of the mass of 
the primary at the time when that satellite was 
thrown off; its speed likewise denotes the rapidity 
of the rotatory motion of the primary at that par- 
ticular juncture. For example, the outermost of 
the four satellites of Jupiter revolves round his 
body at the distance of 1,180,582 miles, shewing 
that the planet was once 3,675,501 miles in cir- 
cumference, instead of being, as now, only 89,170 
miles in diameter. This large mass took rather 
more than sixteen days six hours and a half (the 
present revolutionary period of the outermost satel- 
lite) to rotate on its axis. The innermost satellite 
must have been formed. when the planet was re- 


duced to a circumference of 309,075 miles, and 
rotated in about forty-two hours and a half. 

From similar inferences, we find that the mass 
of the earth, at a certain point of time after it was 
thrown off from the sun, was no less than 482,000 
miles in diameter, being sixty times what it has 
since shrunk to. At that time, the mass must 
have taken rather more than twenty-nine and a 
half days to rotate, (being the revolutionary period 
of the moon,) instead of as now, rather less than 
twenty-four hours. 

The time intervening between the formation of 
the moon and the earth's diminution to its pre- 
sent size, was probably one of those vast sums in 
which astronomy deals so largely, but which the 
mind altogether fails to grasp. 

The observations made upon the surface of the 
moon by telescopes, tend strongly to support the 
hypothesis as to all the bodies of space being com- 
posed of similar matters, subject to certain varia- 
tions. It does not appear that our satellite is 
provided with that gaseous envelope which, on 
earth, performs so many important functions. 
Neither is there any appearance of water upon the 
surface ; yet that surface is, like that of our globe. 


marked by inequalities and the appearance of 
volcanic operations. These inequalities and vol- 
canic operations are upon a scale far greater than 
any which now exist upon the earth's surface. Al- 
though, from the greater force of gravitation upon its 
exterior, the mountains, other circumstances being 
equal, might have been expected to be much 
smaller than ours, they are, in many instances, 
equal in height to nearly the highest of our Andes. 
They are generally of extreme steepness, and 
sharp of outline, a peculiarity which might be 
looked for in a planet deficient in water and atmo- 
sphere, seeing that these are the agents which 
wear down ruggedness on the surface of our earth. 
The volcanic operations are on a stupendous scale. 
They are the cause of the bright spots of the 
moon, while the want of them is what distino-uishes 
the duller portions, usually but erroneously called 
seas. In some parts, bright volcanic matter, be- 
sides covering one large patch, radiates out in long 
streams, which appear studded with subordinate 
foci of the same kind of energy. Other objects of 
a most remarkable character are ring mountains, 
mounts like those of the craters of earthly vol- 
canoes, surrounded immediately by vast and pro- 
found circular pits, hollowed under the general 


surface, these again being surrounded by a circular 
wall of mountain, rising far above the central one, 
and in the inside of which are terraces about the 
same heightasthe inner eminence. The well-known 
bright spot in the south-east quarter, called by 
astronomers Tycho, and which can be readily dis- 
tinguished by the naked eye, is one of these ring- 
mountains. There is one of 200 miles in diameter, 
with a pit 22,000 feet deep ; that is, twice the 
height of iEtna. It is remarkable, that the maps 
given by Humboldt of a volcanic district in South 
America, and one illustrative of the formerly vol- 
canic district of Auvergne, in France, present fea- 
tures strikingly like many parts of the moon's 
surface, as seen through a good glass. 

These characteristics of the moon forbid the idea 
that it can be at present a theatre of life like the 
earth, and almost seem to declare that it never 
can become so. But we must not rashly draw 
any such conclusions. The moon may be only in 
an earlier stage of the progress through which the 
earth has already gone. The elements which seem 
wanting may be only in combinations different in 
those which exist here, and may yet be developed 
as we here find them. Seas may yet fill the pro- 
found hollows of the surface ; an atmosphere may 


spread over the whole. Should these events take 
place, meteorological phenomena, and all the 
phenomena of organic life, will commence, and the 
moon, like the earth, will become a green and in- 
habited world. 

It is unavoidably held as a strong proof in 
favour of any hypothesis, when all the relative 
phenomena are in harmony with it. This is emi- 
nently the case with the nebulous hypothesis, for 
here the associated facts cannot be explained on 
any other supposition. We have seen reason to 
conclude that the primary condition of matter was 
that of a diffused mass, in which the component 
molecules were probably kept apart through the 
efficacy of heat ; that portions of this agglome- 
rated into suns, which threw off planets ; that 
these planets were at first very much diffused, but 
gradually contracted by cooling to their present 
dimensions. Now, as to our own globe, there is a 
remarkable proof of its having been in a fluid state 
at the time when it was finally solidifying, in the 
fact of its being bulged at the equator, the very 
form which a soft revolving body takes, and must 
inevitably take, under the influence of centrifugal 
force. This bulging makes the equatorial exceed the 
polar diameter as 230 to 229, which has been demon- 


strated to be precisely the departure from a correct 
sphere which might be predicated from a knowledge 
of the amount of the mass and the rate of rotation. 
There is an almost equally distinct memorial of 
the original high temperature of the materials, in 
the store of heat which still exists in the interior. 
The immediate surface of the earth, be it observed, 
exhibits only the temperature which might be 
expected to be imparted to such materials, by the 
heat of the sun. There is a point, very short way 
down, but varying in different climes, where all 
effect from the sun's rays ceases. Then, however, 
commences a temperature from an entirely dif- 
ferent cause, one which evidently has its source in 
the interior of the earth, and which regularly in- 
creases as we descend to greater and greater 
depths, the rate of increment being about one 
degree Fahrenheit for every sixty feet ; and of this 
high temperature there are other evidences, in the 
phenomena of volcanoes and thermal springs, as 
well as in what is ascertained with regard to the 
density of the entire mass of the earth. This, it 
will be remembered, is four and a half times the 
weight of water; but the actual weight of the 
principal solid substances composing the outer 
crust is as two and a half times the weight of 


water ; and this, we know, if the globe were solid 
and cold, should increase vastly towards the centre, 
water acquiring the density of quicksilver at 362 
miles below the surface, and other things in pro- 
portion, and these densities becoming much greater 
at greater depths ; so that the entire mass of a cool 
globe should be of a gravity infinitely exceeding 
four and a half times the weight of water. The 
only alternative supposition is, that the central 
materials are greatly expanded or diffused by 
some means ; and by what means could they be 
so expanded but by heat ? Indeed, the existence 
of this central heat, a residuum of that which kept 
all matter in a vaporiform chaos at first, is amongst 
the most solid discoveries of modern science,* 
and the support which it gives to Herschel's ex- 
planation of the formation of worlds is most im- 
portant. We shall hereafter see what appear to 
be traces of an operation of this heat upon the 
surface of the earth in very remote times; an 
effect, however, which has long passed entirely 

* The researches on this subject were conducted chiefly by 
the late Baron Fourier, perpetual secretary to the Academy 
of Sciences of Paris. See his Theorie AnaJytique de la Chaleur. 


away. The central heat has, for ages, reached a 
fixed point, at which it will probably remain for 
ever, as the non-conducting quality of the cool 
crust absolutely prevents it from suffering any 



Although the earth has not been actually pene- 
trated to a greater depth than three thousand feet, 
the nature of its substance can, in many instances, 
be inferred for the depth of many miles by other 
means of observation. We see a mountain com- 
posed of a particular substance, with strata, or beds 
of other rock, lying against its sloped sides ; we, of 
course, infer that the substance of the mountain 
dips away under the strata which we see lying 
against it. Suppose that we walk away from the 
mountain across the turned up edges of the strati- 
fied rocks, and that for many miles we continue 
to pass over other stratified rocks, all disposed in 
the same way, till by and bye we come to a place 
where we begin to cross the opposite edges of the 


same beds ; after which we pass over these rocks 
all in reverse order till we come to another exten- 
sive mountain composed of similar material to the 
first, and shelving away under the strata in the 
same way. We should then infer that the strati- 
fied rocks occupied a basin formed by the rock of 
these two mountains, and by calculating the thick- 
ness right through these strata, could be able to 
say to what depth the rock of the mountain ex- 
tended below. By such means, the kind of rock 
existing many miles below the surface can often 
be inferred with considerable confidence. 

The interior of the globe has now been in- 
spected in this way in many places, and a tolerably 
distinct notion of its general arrangements has 
consequently been arrived at. It appears that the 
basis rock of the earth, as it may be called, is of 
hard texture, and crystalline in its constitution. 
Of this rock, granite may be said to be the type, 
though it runs into many varieties. Over this, 
except in the comparatively few places where it 
projects above the general level in mountains, 
other rocks are disposed in sheets or strata, with 
the appearance of having been deposited originally 
from v^■ater; but these last rocks have nowhere 
been allowed to rest in their original arrangement. 


Uneasy movements from below have broken them 
up in great inchned masses, while in many cases 
there has been projected through the rents rocky 
matter more or less resembling the great inferior 
crystalline mass. This rocky matter must have 
been in a state of fusion from heat at the time of 
its projection, for it is often found to have run 
into and filled up lateral chinks in these rents. 
There are even instances where it has been rent 
again, and a newer melted matter of the same 
character sent through the opening. Finally, in 
the crust as thus arranged there are, in many 
places, chinks containing veins of metal. Thus, 
there is first a great inferior mass, composed of 
crystalline rock, and probably resting immediately 
on the fused and expanded matter of the interior : 
next, layers or strata of aqueous origin ; next, 
irregular masses of melted inferior rock that have 
been sent up volcanically and confusedly at various 
times amongst the aqueous rocks, breaking up these 
into masses, and tossing them out of their original 
levels. This is an outline of the arrangements of 
the crust of the earth, as far as we can observe it. 
It is, at first sight, a most confused scene ; but 
after some careful observation, we readily detect 
in it a regularity and order from which much 


instruction in the history of our globe is to be 

The deposition of the aqueous rocks, and the 
projection of the volcanic, have unquestionably 
taken place since the settlement of the earth in its 
present form. They are indeed of an order of 
events which we see going on, under the agency 
of more or less intelligible causes, even down to 
the present day. We may therefore consider them 
generally as comparatively recent transactions. 
Abstracting them from the investigations before 
us, we arrive at the idea of the earth in its first 
condition as a globe of its present size — namely, 
as a mass, externally at least, consisting of the 
crystalline kind of rock, with the waters of the 
present seas and the present atmosphere around 
it, though these were probably in considerably 
different conditions, both as to temperature and 
their constituent materials, from what they now 
are. We are thus to presume that that crystalline 
texture of roek which w^e see exemplified in 
granite is the condition into which the great bulk 
of the solids of our earth were agglomerated 
directly from the nebulous or vaporiform state. 
It is a condition eminently of combination, for 
such rock is invariably composed of two or more 


of four substances — silica, mica, quartz, and horn- 
blende — which associate in it in the form of grains or 
crystals, and which are themselves each composed 
of a group of the simple or elementary substances. 
Judging from the results and from still remain- 
ing conditions, we must suppose that the heat 
retained in the interior of the globe was more 
intense, or had greater freedom to act, in some 
places than in others. These became the scenes 
of volcanic operations, and in time marked their 
situations by the extrusion of traps and basalts 
from below — namely, rocks composed of the crys- 
talline matter fused by intense heat, and developed 
on the surface in various conditions, according to 
the particular circumstances under which it was 
sent up ; some, for example, being thrown up 
under water, and some in the open air, which 
conditions are found to have made considerable 
difference in. its texture and appearance. The 
great stores of subterranean heat also served an 
important purpose in the formation of the aqueous 
rocks. These rocks might, according to Sir John 
Herschel, become subject to heat in the following 
manner : — While the surface of a particular mass 
of rock forms the bed of the sea, the heat is kept 
at a certain distance from that surface by the con- 


tact of the water ; philosophically speaking, it 
radiates away the heat into the sea, and (to resort 
to common language) is cooled a good way down. 
. But when new sediment settles at the bottom of that 
'^^^*^^'-:.^^ sea, the heat rises up to what was formerly the 
surface ; and when a second quantity of sediment 
is laid down, it continues to rise through the first 
of the deposits, which then becomes subjected to 
those changes which heat is calculated to produce. 
This process is precisely the same as that of put- 
ting additional coats upon our own bodies ; when, 
of course, the internal heat rises through each 
coat in succession, and the third (supposing there 
is a fourth above it) becomes as warm as perhaps 
the first originally was. 

In speaking of sedimentary rocks, we may be 
said to be anticipating. It is necessary, first, to 
shew how such rocks were formed, or how strati- 
fication commenced. 

Geology tells us as plainly as possible, that the 
original crystalline mass was not a perfectly 
smooth ball, with air and water playing round it. 
There were vast irregularities in the surface, — irre- 
gularities trifling, perhaps, compared with the 
whole bulk of the globe, but assuredly vast in 
^1 comparison with any which now exist upon it. 

<-e D 


These irregularities might be occasioned by ine- 
qualities in the cooling of the substance, or by 
accidental and local sluggishness of the materials, 
or by local effects of the concentrated internal 
heat. From whatever cause they arose, there they 
were — enormous granitic mountains, interspersed 
with seas which sunk to a depth equally profound, 
and by which, perhaps, the mountains were wholly 
or partially covered. Now, it is a fact of which 
the very first principles of geology assure us, that 
the solids of the globe cannot for a moment be 
exposed to water, or to the atmosphere, without 
becoming liable to change. They instantly begin 
to wear down. This operation, we may be assured, 
proceeded with as much certainty in the earliest 
ages of our earth's history, as it does now, but 
upon a much more magnificent scale. There is 
the clearest evidence that the seas of those days 
were not in some instances less than a hundred 
miles in depth, however much more. The sub- 
aqueous mountains must necessarily have been of 
at least equal magnitude. The system of disinte- 
gration consequent upon such conditions would be 
enormous. The matters worn off", being carried 
into the neighbouring depths, and there deposited, 
became the components of the earliest stratified 


rocks, the first series of which is the Gneiss and Mica 
Slate System, or series, examples of which are ex- 
posed to view in the Highlands of Scotland and 
in the West of England. The vast thickness of 
these beds, in some instances, is what attests the 
profoundness of the primeval oceans in which 
they were formed ; the Pensylvanian grawacke, a 
member of the next highest series, is not less than 
a hundred miles in direct thickness. We have 
also evidence that the earliest strata were formed 
in the presence of a stronger degree of heat than 
what operated in subsequent stages of the world, 
for the laminae of the gneiss and of the mica and 
chlorite schists are contorted in a way which could 
only be the result of a very high temperature. It 
appears as if the seas in which these deposits were 
formed, had been in the troubled state of a cal- 
dron of water nearly at boiling heat. Such a 
condition would probably add not a little to the 
disintegrating power of the ocean. 

The earliest stratified rocks contain no matters 
which are not to be found in the primitive granite. 
They are the same in material, but only changed 
into new forms and combinations; hence they 
have been called by Mr. Lyell, metamorphic rocks. 
But how comes it that some of them are composed 


almost exclusively of one of the materials ot 
granite ; the mica schists, for example, of mica — 
the quartz rocks, of quartz, &c. ? For this there 
are both chemical and mechanical causes. Sup- 
pose that a river has a certain quantity of material 
to carry down, it is evident that it will soonest 
drop the larger particles, and carry the lightest 
farthest on. To such a cause is it owing that 
some of the materials of the worn-down granite 
have settled in one place and some in another.* 
Again, some of these materials must be presumed 
to have been in a state of chemical solution in the 
primeval seas. It would be, of course, in con- 
formity with chemical laws, that certain of these 
materials would be precipitated singly, or in 
modified combinations, to the bottom, so as to 
form rocks by themselves. 

The rocks hitherto spoken of contain none of 
those petrified remains of vegetables and animals 
which abound so much in subsequently formed 
rocks, and tell so wondrous a tale of the past his- 
tory of our globe. They simply contain, as has 
been said, mineral materials derived from the pri- 
mitive mass, and which appear to have been 
formed into strata in seas of vast depth. The 
* Delabeche's Geological Researches. 


absence from these rocks of all traces of vegetable 
and animal life, joined to a consideration of the 
excessive temperature which seems to have pre- 
vailed in their epoch, has led to the inference that 
no plants or animals of any kind then existed. A 
few geologists have indeed endeavoured to shew 
that the absence of organic remains is no proof of 
the globe having been then unfruitful or uninha- 
bited, as the heat to which these rocks have been 
subjected at the time of their solidification, might 
have obliterated any remains of either plants or 
animals which were included in them. But this 
is only an hypothesis of negation ; and it certainly 
seems very unlikely that a degree of heat suffi- 
cient to obliterate the remains of plants or animals 
when dead, would ever allow of their coming into 
or continuing in existence. 



We can scarcely be said to have passed out of 
these rocks, when we begin to find new conditions 
in the earth. It is here to be observed that the 
subsequent rocks are formed, in a great measure, 
of matters derived from the substance of those 
which went before, but contain also beds of lime- 
stone, which is to no small extent composed of 
an ingredient which has not hitherto appeared. 
Limestone is a carbonate of lime, a secondary 
compound, of which one of the ingredients, car- 
bonic acid gas, presents the element carbon, a 
perfect novelty in our progress. Whence this 
substance ? The question is the more interesting, 
from our knowing that carbon is the main in- 
gredient in organic things. There is reason to 


believe that its primeval condition was that of a 
gas, confined in the interior of the earth, and dif- 
fused in the atmosphere. The atmosphere still s 
contains about a two-thousandth part of carbonic I 
acid gas, forming the grand store from which the \ 
substance of each year's crop of herbage and grain ; 
is derived, passing from herbage and grain into j 
animal substance, and from animals again rendered j 
back to the atmosphere in their expired breath, so f 
that its amount is never impaired. Knowing this, \ 
when we hear of carbon beginning to appear in ' 
the ascending series of rocks, we are unavoidably 
led to consider it as marking a time of some im- 
portance in the earth's history, a new era of natural 
conditions, one in which organic life has probably 
played a part. 

It is not easy to suppose that, at this period, 
carbon was adopted directly in its gaseous form 
into rocks ; for, if so, why should it not have been 
taken into earlier ones also ? But we know that 
plants take it in, and transform it into substance ; 
and we also know that there are classes of animals 
(marine polypes) which are capable of appropriat- 
ing it, in connexion with lime, (carbonate of lime,) 
from the waters of the ocean, provided it be there 
in solution ; and this substance do these animals 


deposit in masses (coral reefs) equal in extent to 
many strata. It has even been suggested, on strong 
grounds of probability, that a class of limestone 
beds are simply these reefs subjected to subsequent 
heat and pressure. 

The appearance, then, of limestone beds in the 
early part of the stratified series, may be presumed 
to be connected with the fact of the commence- 
ment of organic life upon our planet, and, indeed, 
a consequent and a symptom of it 

It may not be out of place here to remark, that 
carbon is presumed to exist largely in the interior 
of the earth, from the fact of such considerable 
quantities of it issuing at this day, in the form of 
carbonic acid gas, from fissures and springs. The 
primeval and subsequent history of this element is 
worthy of much attention, and we shall have to 
revert to it as a matter greatly concerning our sub- 
ject. Delabeche estimates the quantity of car- 
bonic acid gas locked up in every cubic yard of 
limestone, at 16,000 cubic feet. The quantity 
locked up in coal, in which it forms from 64 to 75 
per cent., must also be enormous. If all this were 
disengaged in a gaseous form, the constitution of 
the atmosphere would undergo a change, of which 
the first effect would be the extinction of life in 


all land animals. But a large proportion of it 
must have at one time been in the atmosphere. 
The atmosphere would then, of course, be inca- 
pable of supporting life in land animals. It is im- 
portant, however, to observe that such an atmo- 
sphere would not be inconsistent with a luxuriant 
land vegetation; for experiment has proved that 
plants will flourish in air containing one-twelfth of 
this gas, or 166 times more than the present charge 
of our atmosphere. The results which we observe 
are perfectly consistent with, and may be said to 
presuppose an atmosphere highly charged with 
this gas, from about the close of the primary non- 
fossiliferous rocks to the termination of the car- 
boniferous series, for there we see vast deposits 
(coal) containing carbon as a large ingredient, 
while at the same time the leaves of the Stone Book 
present no record of the contemporaneous exist- 
ence of land animals. 

The hypothesis of the connexion of the first 
limestone beds with the commencement of organic 
life upon our planet is supported by the fact, that 
in these beds we find the first remains of the 
bodies of animated creatures. My hypothesis 
may indeed be unsound ; but, whether or not, it 
is clear, taking organic remains as upon the whole 
D 3 


a faithful chronicle, that the deposition of these 
limestone beds was coeval with the existence of 
the earliest, or all but the earliest, living creatures 
upon earth. 

And what were those creatures ? It might well 
be with a kind of awe that the uninstructed in- 
quirer would wait for an answer to this question. 
But nature is simpler than man's wit would make 
her, and behold, the interrogation only brings be- 
fore us the unpretending forms of various zoophytes 
and polypes, together with a few single and double- 
valved shell-fish (mollusks), all of them creatures 
of the sea. It is rather surprising to find these 
before any vegetable forms, considering that vege- 
tables appear to us as forming the necessary first 
link in the chain of nutrition ; but it is probable 
that there were sea plants, and also some simpler 
forms of animal life, before this period, although 
of too slight a -substance to leave any fossil trace 
of their existence. 

The exact point in the ascending stratified series 
at which the first traces of organic life are to be 
found is not clearly determined. Dr. M^Culloch 
states that he found fossil orthocerata (a kind of 
shell-fish) so early as the gneiss tract of Loch 
Eribol, in Sutherland ; but Messrs. Sedgwick and 


Murchisoii, on a subsequent search, could not 
verify the discovery. It has also been stated, that 
the gneiss and mica tract of Bohemia contains 
some seams of grawacke, in which are organic re- 
mains ; but British geologists have not as yet 
attached much importance to this statement. We 
have to look a little his-her in the series for indu- 
bitable traces of organic life. 

Above the gneiss and mica slate system, or 
group of strata, is the Clay Slate and Grawacke Slate 
System ; that is to say, it is higher in the order of 
supraposition, though very often it rests immediately 
on the primitive granite. The sub-groups of this 
system are in the following succession upwards: — 
1, hornblende slate ; 2, chiastolite slate ; 3, clay 
slate ; 4, Snowdon rocks, (grawacke and conglo- 
merates ;) 5, Bala limestone ; 6, Plynlymmon 
rocks, (grawacke and grawacke slates, with beds 
of conglomerates.) This system is largely deve- 
loped in the west and north of England, and it 
has been well examined, partly because some of 
the slate beds are extensively quarried for domestic 
purposes. If we overlook the dubious statements 
respecting Sutherland and Bohemia, we have in 
this " system" the first appearances of life upon 
our planet. The animal remains are chiefly con- 


fined to the slate beds, those named from Bala, in 
Wales, being the most prolific. Zoophyta, poly- 
paria, crinoidea, conchifera, and Crustacea,^ are the 
orders of the animal kingdom thus found in the 
earliest of earth's sepulchres. The orders are dis- 
tinguished without difficulty, from the general cha- 
racters of the creatures whose remains are found ; 
but it is only in this general character that they 
bear a general resemblance to any creatures now 
existing. When we come to consider specific 
characters, we see that a difference exists — thpt, 
in short, the species and even genera are no longer 
represented upon earth. More than this, it will be 
found that the earliest species comparatively soon 
gave place to others, and that they are not repre- 
sented even in the next higher group of rocks. 
One important remark has been made, that a com- 
paratively small variety of species is found in the 
older rocks, although of some particular ones the 
remains are very abundant ; as, for instance, of a 

* In the Cumbrian limestone occur " calamoporae, lithodendra, 
cyathophylla, and orbicula." — Philips. The asaphus and trinu- 
cleus (crustacea) have been found respectively in the slate rocks 
of Wales, and the limestone beds of the grawacke group in Bo- 
hemia. That fragments of crinoidea, though of no determinate 
species, occur in this system, we .have the authority of Mr. Mur- 
chison. — Silurian System, p. 710. 


species of asaphus, which is found between the 
laminae of some of the slate rocks of Wales, and 
the corresponding rocks of Normandy and Ger- 
many in enormous quantities. 

Ascending to the next group of rocks, we find 
the traces of life become more abundant, the 
number of species extended, and important addi- 
tions made in certain vestiges of fuci, or sea- 
plants, and of fishes. This group of rocks has 
beien called by English geologists, the Silurian 
System, because largely developed at the surface 
of a district of western England, formerly occupied 
by a people whom the Roman historians call 
Silures. It is a series of sandstones, limestones, 
and beds of shale (hardened mud), which are 
classed in the following sub-groups, beginning 
with the undermost: — 1, Llandillo rocks, (darkish 
calcareous flagstones;) 2 and 3, two groups called 
Caradoc rocks ; 4, Wenlock shale ; 5, Wenlock 
limestone ; 6, Lower Ludlow rocks, (shales and 
limestones ;) 7, Aymestry limestone ; 8, Upper 
Ludlow rocks, (shales and limestone, chiefly mica- 
ceous.) From the lowest beds upwards, there are 
polypiaria, though most prevalent in the Wenlock 
limestone ; conchifera, a vast number of genera, 
but all of the order brachiopoda, (including tere- 


bratula, pentamerus, spirifer, orthis, leptsena;) 
mollusca, of several orders and many genera, (in- 
cluding turritella, orthoceras, nautilus, beller- 
ophon ;) Crustacea, all of them trilobites, (including 
trinucleus, asaphus, calamene.) A little above 
the Llandillo rocks, there have been discovered 
certain convoluted forms, which are now esta- 
blished as annelids, or sea- worms, a tribe of crea- 
tures still existing, (nereidina and serpulina,) and 
which may often be found beneath stones on a sea- 
beach. One of these, figured by Mr. Murchison, 
is furnished with feet in vast numbers all along its 
body, like a centipede. The occurrence of anne- 
lids is important, on account of their character 
and status in the animal kingdom. They are red- 
blooded and hermaphrodite, and form a link of 
connexion between the annulosa (white-blooded 
worms) and a humble class of the vertebrata.* 
The Wenlock limestone is most remarkable amongst 
all the rocks of the Silurian system, for organic 
remains. Many slabs of it are wholly composed 
of corals, shells, and trilobites, held together by 
shale. It contains many genera of crinoidea and 
polypiaria, and it is thought that some beds of it 
are wholly the production of the latter creatures, 

* Such as amphioxus and myxene. 


or are, in other words, coral reefs transformed by 
heat and pressure into rocks. Remains of fishes, 
of a very minute size, have been detected by Mr. 
PhiHps in the Aymestry limestone, being appa- 
rently the first examples of vertebrated animals 
v^rhich breathed upon our planet. In the upper 
Ludlow rocks, remains of six genera of fish have 
been for a longer period known ; they belong to 
the order of cartilaginous fishes, an order of mean 
organization and ferocious habits, of which the 
shark and sturgeon are living specimens. " Some 
were furnished with long palates, and squat, firmly- 
based teeth, well adapted for crushing the strong- 
cased zoophytes and shells of the period, fragments 
of which occur in the foecal remains ; some with 
teeth that, like the fossil sharks of the later forma- 
tions, resemble lines of miniature pyramids, larger 
and smaller alternating; some with teeth sharp, 
thin, and so deeply serrated, that every individual 
tooth resembles a row of poniards set up against 
the walls of an armory; and these last, says 
Agassiz, furnished with weapons so murderous, 
must have been the pirates of the period. Some 
had their fins guarded with long spines, hooked 
like the beak of an eagle ; some with spines of 
straighter and more slender form, and ribbed and 


furrowed longitudinally like columns ; some were 
shielded by an armour of bony points, and some 
thickly covered with glistening scales."* 

The traces of fuci in this system are all but suf- 
ficient to allow of a distinction of genera. In 
some parts of North America, extensive though 
thin beds of them have been found. A distin- 
guished French geologist, M. Brogniart, has 
shewn that all existing marine plants are classifi- 
able with regard to the zones of climate; some 
being fitted for the torrid zone, some for the tem- 
perate, some for the frigid. And he establishes 
that the fuci of these early rocks speak of a torrid 
climate, although they may be found in what are 
now temperate regions ; he also states that those 
of the higher rocks betoken, as we ascend, a gra- 
dually diminishing temperature. 

We thus early begin to find proofs of the general 
uniformity of organic life over the surface of the 
earth, at the time when each particular system of 
rocks was formed. Species identical with the re- 
mains in the Wenlock limestone occur in the cor- 
responding class of rocks in the Eifel, and parti- 
ally in the Harz, Norway, Russia, and Brittany. 
The situations of the remains in Russia are fifteen 

* Miller's '^ New Walks in an Old Field." 


hundred miles from the Wenlock beds ; but at the 
distance of between six and seven thousand from 
those, — namely, in the vale of Mississippi, the 
same species are discovered. Uniformity in animal 
life over large geographical areas argues uniformity 
in the conditions of animal life ; and hence arise 
some curious inferences. Species, in the same low 
class of animals, are now much more limited ; for 
instance, the Red Sea gives different polypiaria, 
zoophytes, and shell-fish, from the Mediterranean. 
It is the opinion of M. Brogniart, that the unifor- 
mity which existed in the primeval times can only 
be attributed to the temperature arising from the 
internal heat, which had yet, as he supposes, been 
sufficiently great to overpower the ordinary me- 
teorological influences, and spread a tropical clime 
all over the globe. 



We advance to a new chapter in this marvellous 
history — the era of the Old Bed Sandstone System, 
This term has been recently applied to a series of 
strata, of enormous thickness in the whole mass, 
largely developed in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Wor- 
cestershire, and South Whales ; also in the counties 
of Fife, Forfar, Moray, Cromarty, and Caithness ; 
and in Russia and North America, if not in many 
other parts of the world. The particular strata 
forming the system are somewhat different in dif- 
ferent countries ; but there is a general character 
to the extent of these being a mixture of flagstones, 
marly rocks, and sandstones, usually of a laminous 
structure, with conglomerates. There is also a schist 
shewing the presence of bitumen; a remarkable 


new ingredient, since it is a vegetable production. 
In the conglomerates, of great extent and thick- 
ness, which form, in at least one district, the basis 
or leading feature of the system, inclosing water- 
worn fragments of quartz and other rocks, we have 
evidence of the seas of that period having been 
subjected to a violent and long-continued agita- 
tion, probably from volcanic causes. The upper 
members of the series bear the appearance of 
having been deposited in comparatively tranquil 
seas. The English specimens of this system shew 
a remarkable freedom from those disturbances 
which result in the interjection of trap ; and they 
are thus defective in mineral ores. In some parts 
of England the old red sandstone system has been 
stated as 10,000 feet in thickness. 

In this era, the forms of life which existed in the 
Silurian are continued : we have the same orders 
of marine creatures, zoophyta, polypiaria, conchi- 
fera, Crustacea ; but to these are added numerous 
fishes, some of which are of most extraordinary 
and surprising forms. Several of the strata are 
crowded with remains of fish, shewing that the 
seas in which those beds were deposited had 
swarmed with that class of inhabitants. The in- 


vestigation of this system is recent ; but already* 
M. Agassiz has ascertained about twenty genera, 
and thrice the number of species. And it is re- 
markable that the Silurian fishes are here only 
represented in genera ; the whole of the species of 
that era had already passed away. Even through- 
out the sub-groups of the system itself, the species 
are changed ; and these are phenomena observed 
throughout all the subsequent systems or geolo- 
gical eras ; apparently arguing that, during the de- 
position of all the rocks, a gradual change of phy- 
sical conditions was constantly going on. A 
varying temperature, or even a varying depth of 
sea, would at present be attended with similar 
changes in marine life ; and by analogy we are 
entitled to assume that such variations in the an- 
cient seas mio-ht be amongst the causes of that 
constant change of genera and species in the 
inhabitants of those seas to which the organic 
contents of the rocks bear witness. 

Some of the fossils of this system, — the cepha- 
laspis, coccosteus, pterichthys, holoptychius — are, 
in form and structure, entirely different from any 
fishes now existing, only the sturgeon family 
having any trace of affinity to them in any respect. 

* June, 1842. 


They seem to form a sort of connecting link be- 
tween the Crustacea and true fishes. 

The cephalaspis may be considered as making 
the smallest advance from the crustacean character ; 
it very much resembles in form the asaphus of 
lower formations, having a longish tail-like body 
inserted within the cusp of a large crescent-shaped 
head, somewhat like a saddler's cutting-knife. The 
body is covered with strong plates of bone, en- 
amelled, and the head was protected on the upper 
side with one large plate, as with a buckler — 
hence the name, implying buckler-head. A range 
of small fins conveys the idea of its having been as 
weak in motion as it is strong in structure. The 
coccosteus may be said to mark the next advance 
to fish creation. The outline of its body is of the 
form of a short thick coffin, rounded, covered with 
strong bony plates, and terminating in a long tail, 
which seems to have been the sole organ of motion. 
It is very remarkable, that, while the tail establishes 
this creature among the vertebrata and the fishes, 
its mouth has been opened vertically, like those 
of the crustaceans, but which is contrar}^ to the 
mode of vertebrata generally. This seems a pretty 
strong mark of the link character of the coccosteus 
between these two great departments of the animal 


kingdom. The pterichthys has also strong bony 
plates over its body, arranged much like those of 
a tortoise, and has a long tail ; but its most re- 
markable feature, and that which has suggested 
its name, is a pair of long and narrow wing-like 
appendages attached to the shoulders, which the 
creature is supposed to have erected for its defence 
when attacked by an enemy. 

The holoptychius is of a flat oval form, furnished 
with fins, and ending in a long tail ; the whole 
body covered with strong plates which overlap 
each other, and the head forming only a slight 
rounded projection from the general figure. The 
specimens in the lower beds are not above the size 
of a flounder; but in the higher strata, to judge 
by the size of the scales or plates which have been 
found, the creature attained a comparatively mon- 
strous size. 

The other fisLes of the system, — the osteolepis, 
glyptolepis, dipterus, &c., are, in general outline, 
much like fishes still existing, but their organiza- 
tion has, nevertheless, some striking peculiarities. 
They have been entirely covered with bony scales 
or plates, enamelled externally; their spines are 
tipped with bone, and, as one striking and unvary- 
ing feature, the tail is only finned on the lower 


side. The internal skeleton, of which no traces 
have been preserved, is presumed to have been 
cartilaginous. They therefore unite the character 
of cartilaginous fishes with a character peculiar to 
themselves, and in which we see pretty clear ves- 
tiges of the pre-existent crustaceous form. 

With regard to the link character of these ani- 
mals, some curious facts are mentioned. It ap- 
pears that in the imperfect condition of the ver- 
tebral column, and the inferior situation of the 
mouth in the pterichthys, coccosteus, &c., there is 
an analogy to the form of the dorsal cord and posi- 
tion of the mouth in the embryo of perfect fishes. 
The one-sided form of the tail in the osteolepis 
&c. finds a similar analogy in the form of the tail 
in the embryo of the salmon. It is not premature 
to remark how broadly these facts seem to hint at 
a parity of law affecting the progress of general 
creation, and the progress of an individual foetus 
of one of the more perfect animals. 

It is equally ascertained of the types of being 
prevalent in the old red, as of those of the preced- 
ing system, that they are uniform in the corre- 
sponding strata of distant parts of the earth ; for 
instance, Russia and North America. 

In the old red sandstone, the marine plants, of 


which faint traces are observable in the Silurians, 
continue to appear. It would seem as if less 
change took place in the vegetation than in the 
animals of those early seas ; and for this, as Mr. 
Miller has remarked, it is easy to imagine reasons. 
For example, an infusion of lime into the sea 
v^ould destroy animal life, but be favourable to 

As yet there were no land animals or plants, 
and for this the presumable reason is, that no dry 
land as yet existed. We are not left to make this 
inference solely from the absence of land animals 
and plants ; in the arrangement of the primar}^ 
(stratified) rocks, we have further evidence of it. 
That these rocks were formed in a generally hori- 
zontal position, we are as well assured as that 
they were formed at the bottom of seas. But they 
are always found greatly inclined in position, 
tilted up against the slopes of the granitic masses 
which are beneath them in geological order, though 
often shooting up to a higher point in the atmo- 
sphere. No doubt can be entertained that these 
granitic masses, forming our principal mountain 
ranges, have been protruded from below, or, at 
least, thrust much further up, since the deposition 
of the primary rocks. The protrusion was what 


tilted lip the primary rocks ; and the inference is, 
of course, unavoidable, that these mountains have 
risen chiefly, at least, since the primary rocks were 
laid down. It is remarkable that, while the pri- 
mary rocks thus incline towards granitic nuclei or 
axes, the strata higher in the series rest against 
these again, generally at a less inclination, or none 
at all, shewing that these strata were laid down 
after the swelling mountain eminences had, by their 
protrusion, tilted up the primary strata. And thus 
it may be said an era of local upthrowing of 
the primitive and (perhaps) central matter of 
our planet, is established as happening about the 
close of the primary strata, and beginning of the 
next ensuing system. It may be called the Era 
of the Oldest Mountains, or, more boldly, of the 
formation of the detached portions of dry land 
over the hitherto watery surface of the globe — an 
important part of the designs of Providence, for 
which the time was now apparently come. It may 
be remarked, that volcanic disturbances and pro- 
trusions of trap took place throughout the whole 
period of the deposition of the primary rocks ; but 
they were upon a comparatively limited scale, and 
probably all took place under water. It was only 
now that the central granitic masses of the great 



mountain ranges were thrown up, carrying up with 
them broken edges of the primary strata ; a pro- 
cess which seems to have had this difference from 
the other, that it was the effect of a more tremen- 
dous force exerted at a lower depth in the earth, 
and generally acting in lines pervading a consider- 
able portion of the earth's surface. We shall by- 
and-by see that the protrusion of some of the 
mountain ranges was not completed, or did not 
stop, at that period. There is no part of geological 
science more clear than that which refers to the 
ages of mountains. It is as certain that the Gram- 
pian mountains of Scotland are older than the 
Alps and Apennines, as it is that civilization had 
visited Italy, and had enabled her to subdue the 
world, while Scotland was the residence of " roving 
barbarians." The Pyrenees, Carpathians, and 
other ranges of continental Europe, are all younger 
than the Grampians, or even the insignificant 
Mendip Hills of southern England. Stratification 
tells this tale as plainly as Livy tells the history of 
the Roman republic. It tells us — to use the words 
of Professor Philips — that at the time when the 
Grampians sent streams and detritus to straits 
where now the valleys of the Forth and Clyde 
meet, the greater part of Europe was a wide 


The last three systems — called, in England, the 
Cumbrian, Silurian, and Devonian, and collectively 
the palaeozoic rocks, from their containing the 
remains of the earliest inhabitants of the globe — 
are of vast thickness ; in England, not much less 
than 30,000 feet, or nearly six miles. In other 
parts of the world, as we have seen, the earliest of 
these systems alone is of much greater depth — 
arguing an enormous profundity in the ocean in 
which they were formed. 





We now enter upon a new great epoch in the 
history of our globe. There was now dry land. 
As a consequence of this fact, there was fresh 
water, for rain, instead of immediately returning 
to the sea, as formerly, was now gathered in chan- 
nels of the earth, and became springs, rivers, and 
lakes. There was now a theatre for the existence 
of land plants and animals, and it remains to be 
inquired if these accordingly were produced. 

The Secondary Rocks, in which our further re- 
searches are to be prosecuted, consist of a great 
and varied series, resting, generally unconformably, 
against flanks of the upturned primary rocks. 


sometimes themselves considerably inclined, at 
others, forming extensive basin-like beds, nearly 
horizontal ; in many places, much broken up and 
shifted by disturbances from below. They have 
all been formed out of the materials of the older 
rocks, by virtue of the wearing power of air and 
water, which is still every day carrying down vast 
quantities of the elevated matter of the globe into 
the sea. But the separate strata are each much 
more distinct in the matter of its composition than 
might be expected. Some are siliceous or arena- 
ceous (sandstones), composed mainly of fine grains 
from the quartz rocks — the most abundant of the 
primary strata. Others are argillaceous — clays, 
shales, &c., chiefly derived, probably, from the 
slate beds of the primary series. Others are cal- 
careous, derived from the early limestone. As a 
general feature, they are softer and less crystalline 
than the primary rocks, as if they had endured 
less of both heat and pressure than the senior 
formation. There are beds {coal) formed solely 
of vegetable matter, and some others in which the 
main ingredient is particles of iron, (the iron black 
hand.) The secondary rocks are quite as commu- 
nicative with regard to their portion of the earth's 
history as the primitive were. 


The first, or lowest, group of the secondary rocks 
is called the Carboniferous Formation, from the re- 
markable feature of its numerous interspersed beds 
of coal. It commences with the beds of the mountain 
limestone, which, in some situations, as in Derby- 
shire and Ireland, are of great thickness, being alter- 
nated with chert (a siliceous sandstone), sandstones, 
shales, and beds of coal, generally of the harder 
and less bituminous kind (anthracite), the whole 
being covered in some places by the millstone 
grit, a siliceous conglomerate composed of the 
detritus of the primary rocks. The mountain 
limestone, attaining in England to a depth of eight 
hundred yards, greatly exceeds in volume any of 
the primary limestone beds, and shews an enor- 
mous addition of power to the causes formerly 
suggested as having produced this substance. In 
fact, remains of corals, crinoidea, and shells, are so 
abundant in it, as to compose three-fourths of the 
mass in some parts. Above the mountain lime- 
stone commence the more conspicuous coal beds, 
alternating with sandstones, shales, beds of lime- 
stone, and ironstone. Coal is altogether composed 
of the matter of a terrestrial vegetation, transmuted 
by pressure. Some fresh^water shells have been 


found in it, but few of marine origin, and no re- 
mains of those zoophytes and crinoidea so abun- 
dant in the mountain limestone and other rocks. 
Coal beds exist in Europe, Asia, and America, 
and have hitherto been esteemed as the most 
valuable of mineral productions, from the important 
services which the substance renders in manu- 
factures and in domestic economy. It is to be 
remarked, that there are some local variations in 
the arrangement of coal beds. In France, they 
rest immediately on the granite and other primary 
rocks, the intermediate strata not having been 
found at those places. In America, the kind 
called anthracite occurs among the slate beds, and 
this species also abounds more in the mountain 
limestone than with us. These last circumstances 
only shew that different parts of the earth's sur- 
face did not all witness the same events of a certain 
fixed series exactly at the same time. There had 
been an exhibition of dry land about the site of 
America, a little earlier than in Europe. 

Some features of the condition of the earth 
during the deposition of the carboniferous group, 
are made out with a clearness which must satisfy 
most minds. First we are told of a time when 


carbonate of lime was formed in vast abundance at 
the bottoms of profound seas, accompanied by an 
unusually large population of corals and encrinites ; 
while in some parts of the earth there were patches 
of dry land, covered with a luxuriant vegetation. 
Next we have a comparatively brief period of vol- 
canic disturbance, (when the conglomerate was 
formed.) Then the causes favourable to the so 
abundant production of limestone, and the large 
population of marine acrita, decline, and we find 
the masses of dry land increase in number and ex- 
tent, and begin to bear an amount of forest vege- 
tation, far exceeding that of the most sheltered 
tropical spots of the present surface. The climate, 
even in the latitude of Baffin's Bay, was torrid, and 
perhaps the atmosphere contained a larger charge 
of carbonic acid gas (the material of vegetation) 
than it now does. The forests or thickets of the 
period, included no species of plants now known 
upon earth. They mainly consisted of gigantic 
shrubs, which are either not represented by any 
existing types, or are akin to kinds which are now 
only found in small and lowly forms. That these 
forests grew upon a Polynesia, or multitude of 
small islands, is considered probable, from similar 
vegetation being now found in such situations 


within the tropics. With regard to the circum- 
stances under which the masses of vegetable mat- 
ter were transformed into successive coal strata, 
geologists are divided. From examples seen at 
the present day, at the mouths of such rivers as 
the Mississippi, which traverse extensive sylvan 
regions, and from other circumstances to be ad- 
verted to, it is held likely by some that the vege- 
table matter, the rubbish of decayed forests, was 
carried by rivers into estuaries, and there accumu- 
lated in vast natural rafts, until it sunk to the 
bottom, where an overlayer of sand or mud would 
prepare it for becoming a stratum of coal. Others 
conceive that the vegetation first went into the 
condition of a peat moss, that a sink in the level 
then exposed it to be overrun by the sea, and 
covered with a layer of sand or mud ; that a sub- 
sequent uprise made the mud dry land, and fitted 
it to bear a new forest, which afterwards, like its 
predecessor, became a bed of peat ; that, in short, 
by repetitions of this process, the alternate layers 
of coal, sandstone, and shale, constituting the car- 
boniferous group, were formed. It is favourable 
to this last view that marine fossils are scarcely 
found in the body of the coal itself, though abun- 
dant in the shale layers above and below it ; also 


that in several places erect stems of trees are found 
with their roots still fixed in the shale beds, and 
crossing the sandstone beds at almost right angles, 
shewing that these, at least, had not been drifted 
from their original situations. On the other hand, 
it is not easy to admit such repeated risings and 
sinkings of surface as would be required, on this 
hypothesis, to form a series of coal strata. Perhaps 
we may most safely rest at present with the suppo- 
sition that coal has been formed under both classes 
of circumstances, though in the latter only as an 
exception to the former. 

Upwards of three hundred species of plants have 
been ascertained to exist in the coal formation; 
but it is not necessary to suppose that the whole 
contained in that system are now, or ever will 
be distinguished. Experiments shew that some 
great classes of plants become decomposed in water 
in a much less space of time than others, and it is 
remarkable that those which decompose soonest, 
are of the classes found most rare, or not at all, in 
the coal strata. It is consequently to be inferred 
that there may have been grasses and mosses at this 
era, and many species of trees, the remains of which 
had lost all trace of organic form before their sub- 
stance sunk into the mass of which coal was formed. 


In speaking, therefore, of the vegetation of this 
period, we must bear in mind that it may have 
comprehended forms of which we have no me- 

Supposing, nevertheless, that, in the main, the 
ascertained vegetation of the coal system is that 
which grew at the time of its formation, it is in- 
teresting to find that the terrestrial botany of our 
globe begins with classes of comparatively simple 
forms and structure. In the ranks of the vegetable 
kingdom, the lowest place is taken by plants of 
cellular tissue, and which have no flowers, (crypto- 
gamia,) as lichens, mosses, fungi, ferns, sea-weeds. 
Above these stand plants of vascular tissue, and 
bearing flowers, in which again there are two 
great subdivisions ; first, plants having one seed- 
lobe, {monocotyledons^^ and in which the new 
matter is added within, {endogenous,) of which 
the cane and palm are examples ; second, plants 
having two seed-lobes, {dicotyledons,) and in which 
the new matter is added on the outside under the 
bark, {exogenous^ of which the pine, elm, oak, and 
most of the British forest-trees are examples ; these 
subdivisions also ranking in the order in which 
they are here stated. Now it is clear that a pre- 
dominance of these forms in succession marked 


the successive epochs developed by fossil geology ; 
the simple abounding first, and the complex after- 

Two-thirds of the plants of the carboniferous 
era are of the cellular or cryptogamic kind, a pro- 
portion which would probably be much increased 
if we knew the whole Flora of that era. The 
ascertained dicotyledons, or higher-class plants, 
are comparatively few in this formation; but it 
will be found that they constantly increased as the 
globe grew older. 

The master-form or type of the era was the 
fern, or breckan, of which about one hundred and 
thirty species have already been ascertained as 
entering into the composition of coal.* The fern 
is a plant which thrives best in warm, shaded, and 
moist situations. In tropical countries, where 
these conditions abound, there are many more 
species than in temperate climes, and some of 
these are arborescent, or of a tree-like size and 
luxuriance.! The ferns of the coal strata have 
been of this magnitude, and that without regard to 

* The principal families are named sphenopteris, neuropteris, 
and pecopteris. 

t A specimen from Bengal, in the staircase of the British 
Museum, is forty-five feet high. 


the parts of the earth where they are found. In 
the coal of Baffin's Bay, of Newcastle, and of the 
torrid zone alike, are the fossil ferns arborescent, 
shewing clearly that, in that era, the present tro- 
pical temperature, or one even higher, existed in 
very high latitudes. 

In the swamps and ditches of England there 
grows a plant called the horse-tail (equisetum), 
having a succulent, erect, jointed stem, with slen- 
der leaves, and a scaly catkin at the top. A second 
large section of the plants of the carboniferous era 
were of this kind (equisetacecB), but, like the fern, 
reaching the magnitudes of trees. While existing 
equiseta rarely exceed three feet in height, and 
the stems are generally under half an inch in 
diameter, their kindred, entombed in the coal beds, 
seem to have been generally fourteen or fifteen 
feet high, with stems from six inches to a foot in 
thickness. Arborescent plants of this family, like 
the arborescent ferns, now grow only in tropical 
countries, and their being found in the coal beds 
in all latitudes is consequently held as an addi- 
tional proof, that at this era a warm climate was 
extended much farther to the north than at present. 
It is to be remarked that plants of this kind (form- 
ing two genera, the most abundant of which is the 


calamites) are only represented on the present sur- 
face by plants of the same famili/ : the species 
which flourished at this era gradually lessen in 
number as we advance upwards in the series of 
rocks, and disappear before we arrive at the ter- 
tiary formation. 

The club-moss family (lycopodiaceoB) are other 
plants of the present surface, usually seen in a 
lowly and creeping form in temperate latitudes, 
but presenting species which rise to a greater mag- 
nitude within the tropics. Many specimens of 
this family are found in the coal beds ; it is thought 
they have contributed more to the substance of the 
coal than any other family. But, like the ferns 
and equisetaceae, they rise to a prodigious mag- 
nitude. The lepidodendra (so the fossil genus is 
called) have probably been from sixty-five to eighty 
feet in height, having at their base a diameter of 
about three feet, while their leaves measured 
twenty inches in length. In the forests of the 
coal era, the lepidodendra would enjoy the rank 
of firs in our forests, affording shade to the only 
less stately ferns and calamites. The internal 
structure of the stem, and the character of the 
seed-vessels, shew them to have been a link be- 


tween single-lobed and double-lobed plants, a fact 
worthy of note, as it favours the idea that, in vege- 
table, as well as animal creation, a progress has 
been observed, in conformity with advancing con- 
ditions. It is also curious to find a missing link 
of so much importance in a genus of plants which 
has long ceased to have a hving place upon earth. 

The other leading plants of the coal era are 
without representatives on the present surface, and 
their characters are in general less clearly ascer- 
tained. Amongst the most remarkable are — the 
sigillaria, of which large stems are very abundant, 
shewing that the interior has been soft, and the 
exterior fluted with separate leaves inserted in 
vertical rows along the flutings — and the stigmaria, 
plants apparently calculated to flourish in marshes 
or pools, having a short, thick, fleshy stem, with a 
dome-shaped top, from which sprung branches of 
from twenty to thirty feet long. Amongst mono- 
cotyledons were some palms, {flahellaria and nceg- 
gerathia,) besides a few not distinctly assignable 
to any class. 

The dicotyledons of the coal are comparatively 
few, though on the present surface they are the 
most numerous sub-class. Besides some of doubt- 


ful affinity, {annularia, aster ophyllites, &c.,) there 
were a few of the pine family, which seem to have 
been the highest class of trees of this era, and are 
only as yet found in isolated cases, and in sand- 
stone beds. The first discovered lay in the Craig- 
leith quarry, near Edinburgh, and consisted of a 
stem about two feet thick, and forty-seven feet in 
length. Others have since been found, both in the 
same situation, and at Newcastle. Leaves and 
fruit being wanting, an ingenious mode of detect- 
ing the nature of these trees was hit upon by Mr. 
Witham of Lartington. Taking thin polished cross 
slices of the stem, and subjecting them to the 
microscope, he detected the structure of the wood 
to be that of a cone-bearing tree, by the presence 
of certain '^ reticulations " which distinguish that 
family, in addition to the usual radiating and con- 
centric lines. That particular tree was concluded 
to be an araucaria, a species now found in Norfolk 
Island, in the South Sea, and in a few other re- 
mote situations. The coniferae of this era form 
the dawn of dicotyledenous trees, of which they 
may be said to be the simplest type, and to which, 
it has already been noticed, the lepidodendra are 
a link from the monocotyledons. The concentric 
rings of the Craigleith and other coniferae of this 


era have been mentioned. It is interesting to find 
in these a record of the changing seasons of tliose 
early ages, when as yet there were no human 
beings to observe time or tide. They are clearly 
traced; but it is observed that they are more 
slightly marked than is the case with their family 
at the present day, as if the changes of temperature 
had been within a narrower range. 

Such was the vegetation of the carbonigenous 
era, composed of forms at the bottom of the bota- 
nical scale, flowerless, fruitless, but luxuriant and 
abundant beyond what the most favoured spots on 
earth can now shew. The rigidity of the leaves 
of its plants, and the absence of fleshy fruits and 
farinaceous seeds, unfitted it to afford nutriment 
to animals ; and, monotonous in its forms, and 
destitute of brilliant colouring, its sward probably 
unenlivened by any of the smaller flowering herbs, 
its shades uncheered by the hum of insects, or the 
music of birds, it must have been but a sombre 
scene to a human visitant. But neither man nor 
any other animals were then in existence to look 
for such uses or such beauties in this vegetation. 
It was serving other and equally important ends, 
clearing (probably) the atmosphere of matter nox- 
ious to animal life, and storing up mineral masses 


which were in long subsequent ages to prove of 
the greatest service to the human race, even to 
the extent of favouring the progress of its civihza- 

The animal remains of this era are not nume- 
rous, in comparison with those which go before, or 
those which come after. The mountain limestone, 
indeed, deposited at the commencement of it, 
abounds unusually in polypiaria and crinoidea; 
but when we ascend to the coal-beds themselves, 
the case is altered, and these marine remains alto- 
gether disappear. We have then only a limited 
variety of conchifers and shell mollusks, with frag- 
ments of a few species of fishes, and these are 
rarely or never found in the coal seams, but in the 
shales alternating with them. Some of the fishes 
are of a sauroid character, that is, partake of the 
nature of the lizard, a genus of the reptilia, a land 
class of animals, so that we may be said here to 
have the first approach to a kind of animals calcu- 
lated to breathe the atmosphere. Such is the 
Megalichthys Hibbertii, found by Dr. Hibbert 
Ware, in a limestone bed of fresh-water origin, un- 
derneath the coal at Burdiehouse, near Edinburgh, 
Others of the same kind have been found in the 
coal measures in Yorkshire, and in the low coal 


shales at Manchester. This is no more than might 
be expected, as collections of fresh water now ex- 
isted, and it is presumable that they would be 
peopled. The chief other fishes of the coal era 
are named palaeothrissum, palaeoniscus, diperdus. 

Coal strata are nearly confined to the group 
termed the carboniferous formation. Thin beds 
are not unknown afterwards, but they occur only as 
a rare exception. It is therefore thought that the 
most important of the conditions which allowed of 
so abundant a terrestrial vegetation, had ceased 
about the time when this formation was closed. 
The high temperature was not one of the condi- 
tions which terminated, for there are evidences of 
it afterwards ; but probably the superabundance of 
carbonic acid gas supposed to have existed during 
this era was expended before its close. There 
can be little doubt that the infusion of a large 
dose of this gas into the atmosphere at the present 
day would be attended by precisely the same cir- 
cumstances as in the time of the carboniferous form- 
ation. Land animal life would not have a place 
on earth ; vegetation would be enormous ; and coal 
strata would be formed from the vast accumulations 
of woody matter, which would gather in every sea, 
near the mouths of great rivers. On the exhaus- 


tion of the superabundance of carbonic acid gas, 
the coal formation would cease, and the earth 
might again become a suitable theatre of being for 
land animals. 

The termination of the carboniferous formation 
is marked by symptoms of volcanic violence, vv^hich 
some geologists have considered to denote the 
close of one system of things and the beginning of 
another. Coal beds generally lie in basins, as if 
following the curve of the bottom of seas. But 
there is no such basin which is not broken up into 
pieces, some of which have been tossed up on 
edge, others allowed to sink, causing the ends of 
strata to be in some instances many yards, and in 
a few several hundred feet, removed from the cor- 
responding ends of neighbouring fragments. These 
are held to be results of volcanic movements below, 
the operation of which is further seen in nume- 
rous upbursts and intrusions of volcanic rock (trap). 
That these disturbances took place about the 
close of the formation, and not later, is shewn in 
the fact of the next higher group of strata being 
comparatively undisturbed. Other symptoms of 
this time of violence are seen in the beds of con- 
glomerate which occur amongst the first strata 
above the coal. These, as usual, consist of frag- 


ments of the elder rocks, more or less worn from 
being tumbled about in agitated water, and laid 
down in a mud paste, afterwards hardened. Vol- 
canic disturbances break up the rocks ; the pieces 
are worn in seas ; and a deposit of conglomerate is 
the consequence. Of porphyry, there are some such 
pieces in the conglomerate of Devonshire, three or 
four tons in weight. It is to be admitted for strict 
truth that, in some parts of Europe, the carboni- 
ferous formation is followed by superior deposits, 
without the appearance of such disturbances be- 
tween their respective periods ; but apparently this 
case belongs to the class of exceptions already no- 
ticed.* That disturbance was general, is supported 
by the further and important fact of the destruc- 
tion of many forms of organic being previously 
flourishing, particularly of the vegetable kingdom. 

* " Some of the most considerable dislocations of the border 
of the coal fields of Coalbrookdale and Dudley happened after 
the deposition of a part of the new red sandstone ; but it is cer- 
tain that those of Somersetshire and Gloucestershire were com- 
pleted before the date of that rock." — Philips. 





The next volume of the rock series refers to an era 
distinguished by an event of no less importance 
than the commencement of land animals. The 
New Red Sandstone System is subdivided into 
groups, some of which are wanting in some places ; 
they are pretty fully developed in the north of 
England, in the following ascending order : — 
1. Lower red sandstone ; 2. Magnesian limestone ; 

3. Red and white sandstones and conglomerate ; 

4. Variegated marls. Between the third and fourth 
there is, in Germany, another group, called the 
Muschelkalk, a word expressing a limestone full of 


The first group, containing the conglomerates 
already adverted to, seems to have been produced 
during the time of disturbance which occurred so 
generally after the carbonigenous era. This new 
era is distinguished by a paucity of organic re- 
mains, as might partly be expected from the ap- 
pearances of disturbance, and the red tint of the 
rocks, the latter being communicated by a solution 
of oxide of iron, a substance unfavourable to 
animal life. 

The second group is a limestone with an infu- 
sion of magnesia. It is developed less generally 
than some others, but occurs conspicuously in 
England and Germany. Its place, above the red 
sandstone, shews the recurrence of circumstances 
favourable to animal life, and we accordingly find 
in it not only zoophytes, conchifera, and a few 
tribes of fish, but some faint traces of land plants, 
and a new and startling appearance — a reptile of 
saurian (lizard) character, analogous to the now 
existing family called monitors. Remains of this 
creature are found in cupriferous (copper-bearing) 
slate connected with the mountain limestone, at 
Mansfield and Glucksbrunn, in Germany, which 
may be taken as evidence that dry land existed 
in that age near those places. The magnesia lime- 


Stone is also remarkable as the last rock in which 
appears the leptaena, or producta, a conchifer of 
numerous species which makes a conspicuous ap- 
pearance in all previous seas. It is likewise to be 
observed, that the fishes of this age, to the genera 
of which the names palaeoniscus, catopterus, platy- 
somus, &C.5 have been applied, vanish, and hence- 
forth appear no more. 

The third group, chiefly sandstones, variously 
coloured according to the amount and nature of 
the metallic oxide infused into them, shews a 
recurrence of agitation, and a consequent diminu- 
tion of the amount of animal life. In the upper 
part, however, of this group, there are abundant 
symptoms of a revival of proper conditions for such 
life. There are marl beds, the origin of which 
substance in decomposed shells is obvious ; and 
in Germany, though not in England, here occurs 
the muschelkalk, containing numerous organic 
remains, (generally different from those of the 
magnesian limestone,) and noted for the specimens 
of land animals, which it is the first to present in 
any considerable abundance to our notice. 

These animals are of the vertebrate sub-king- 
dom, but of its lowest class next after fishes, — 
namely, reptiles, — a portion of the terrestrial tribes 


whose imperfect respiratory system perhaps fitted 
them for enduring an atmosphere not yet quite 
suitable for birds or mammifers.* The specimens 
found in the muschelkalk are aUied to the crocodile 
and lizard tribes of the present day, but in the 
latter instance are upon a scale of magnitude as 
much superior to present forms as the lepidoden- 
dron of the coal era was superior to the dwarf 
club-mosses of our time. These saurians also 
combine some peculiarities of structure of a most 
extraordinary character. 

The animal to which the name ichthyosaurus has 
been given, was as long as a young whale, and it 
was fitted for living in the water, though breathing 
the atmosphere. It had the vertebral column and 
general bodily form of a fish, but to that were 
added the head and breast-bone of a lizard, and 
the paddles of the whale tribes. The beak, more- 
over, was that of a porpoise, and the teeth were 
those of a crocodile. It must have been a most 
destructive creature to the fish of those early seas. 

* The immediate effects of the slow respiration of the reptilia 
are, a low temperature in their bodies, and a slow consumption 
of food. Requiring little oxygen, they could have existed in an 
atmosphere containing a less proportion of that gas to carbonic 
acid gas than what now obtains. 



The plesiosaurus was of similar bulk, with a 
turtle-like body and paddles, shewing that the sea 
was its element, but with a long serpent-like neck, 
terminating in a saurian head, calculated to reach 
prey at a considerable distance. These two 
animals, of which many varieties have been dis- 
covered, constituting distinct species, are supposed 
to have lived in the shallow borders of the seas of 
this and subsequent formations, devouring immense 
quantities of the finny tribes. It was at first 
thought that no creatures approaching them in 
character now inhabit the earth ; but latterly 
Mr. Darwin has discovered, in the reptile-peopled 
Galapagos Islands, in the South Sea, a marine 
saurian from three to four feet long. 

The megalosaurus was an enormous lizard — a 
land creature, also carnivorous. The pterodactyle 
was another lizard, but furnished with wings to 
pursue its prey in the air, and varying in size 
between a cormorant and a snipe. Crocodiles 
abounded, and some of these were herbivorous. 
Such was the iguanodon, a creature of the charac- 
ter of the iguana of the Ganges, but reaching a 
hundred feet in length, or twenty times that of its 
modern representative. 

There were also numerous tortoises, some of 


them reaching a great size ; and Professor Owen 
has found in Warwickshire some remains of an 
animal of the batrachian order,* to which, from 
the peculiar form of the teeth, he has given the 
name of labyrinthidon. Thus, three of Cuvier's 
four orders of reptilia (sauria, chelonia^ and batra- 
chid) are represented in this formation, the serpent 
order (ophidia) being alone wanting. 

The variegated marl beds which constitute the 
uppermost group of the formation, present two 
additional genera of huge saurians, — the phyto- 
saurus and mastodonsaurus. 

It is in the upper beds of the red sandstone that 
beds of salt first occur. These are sometimes of 
such thickness, that the mine fi-om which the 
material has been excavated looks like a lofty 
church. We see in the present world no circum- 
stances calculated to produce the formation of a 
bed of rock salt ; yet it is not difficult to under- 
stand how such strata were formed in an age 
marked by ultra-tropical heat and frequent volcanic 
disturbances. An estuary, cut off by an upthrow 
of trap, or a change of level, and left to dry up 
under the heat of the sun, would quickly become 

* The order to which frogs and toads belong. 


the bed of a dense layer of rock salt. A second 
shift of level, or some other volcanic disturbance, 
connecting it again with the sea, would expose 
this stratum to being covered over with a layer of 
sand or mud, destined in time to form the next 
stratum of rock above it. 

The plants of this era are few and unobtrusive. 
Equiseta, calamites, ferns, Voltzia, and a few of the 
other families found so abundantly in the pre- 
ceding formation, here present themselves, but in 
diminished size and quantity. 

This seems to be the proper place to advert to 
certain memorials of a peculiar and unexpected 
character respecting these early ages in the sand- 
stones. So low as the bottom of the carboniferous 
system, slabs are found marked over a great extent 
of surface with that peculiar corrugation or wrink- 
ling which the receding tide leaves upon a sandy 
beach when the sea is but slightly agitated ; and 
not only are these ripple-marks, as they are called, 
found on the surfaces, but casts of them are found 
on the under sides of slabs lying above. The 
phenomena suggests the time when the sand ulti- 
mately formed into these stone slabs, was part of 
the beach of a sea of the carbonigenous era ; when, 
left wavy by one tide, it was covered over with a 


thin layer of fresh sand by the next, and so on, 
precisely as such circumstances might be expected 
to take place at the present day. Sandstone sur- 
faces, ripple-marked, are found throughout the 
subsequent formations : in those of the new red, 
at more than one place in England, they further 
bear impressions of rain-drops which have fallen 
upon them — the rain, of course, of the inconceivably 
remote age in which the sandstones were formed. 
In the Greensill sandstone, near Shrewsbury, it 
has even been possible to tell from what direction 
the shower came which impressed the sandy sur- 
face, the rims of the marks being somewhat raised 
on one side, exactly as might be expected from a 
slanting shower falling at this day upon one of 
our beaches. These facts have the same sort of 
interest as the season rings of the Craigleith coni- 
fers, as speaking of a parity between some of the 
familiar processes of nature in those early ages and 
our own. 

In the new red sandstone, impressions still more 
important' in the inferences to which they tend, 
have been observed, — namely, the footmarks of 
various animals. In a quarry of this formation, at 
Corncockle Muir, in Dumfriesshire, where the 
slabs incline at an angle of thirty-eight degrees. 


the vestiges of an animal supposed to have been a 
tortoise are distinctly traced up and down the 
slope, as if the creature had had occasion to pass 
backwards and forwards in that direction only, 
possibly in its daily visits to the sea. Some slabs 
similarly impressed, in the Stourton quarries in 
Cheshire, are further marked with a shower of 
rain which we know must have fallen afterwards, 
for its little hollows are impressed in the footmarks 
also, though more slightly than on the rest of the 
surface, the comparative hardness of a trodden 
place having apparently prevented so deep an im- 
pression being made. At Hessberg, in Saxony, 
the vestiges of four distinct animals have been 
traced, one of them a web-footed animal of small 
size, considered as a congener of the crocodile ; 
another, whose footsteps having a resemblance to 
an impression of a swelled human hand, has caused 
it to be named the cheirotherium. The footsteps 
of the cheirotherium have been found also in the 
Stourton quarries above mentioned. Professor 
Owen, who stands at the head of comparative 
anatomy in the present day, has expressed his 
belief that this last animal was the same batrachian 
of which he has found fragments in the new red 
sandstone of Warwickshire. At Runcorn, near 


Manchester, and elsewhere, have been discovered 
the tracks of an animal which Mr. Owen calls the 
rynchosaurus, uniting with the body of a reptile 
the beak and feet of a bird, and which clearly had 
been a link between these two classes. 

If geologists shall ultimately give their approba- 
tion to the inferences made from a recent discovery 
in America, we shall have the addition of perfect 
birds, though probably of a low type, to the animal 
forms of this era. It is stated to be in quarries of 
this rock, in the valley of Connecticut, that foot- 
prints have been found, apparently produced by 
birds of the order grail ae, or waders. " The foot- 
steps appear in regular succession on the con- 
tinuous track of an animal, in the act of walking 
or running, with the right and left foot always in 
their relative places. The distance of the intervals 
between each footstep on the same track is occa- 
sionally varied, but to no greater amount than may 
be explained by the bird having altered its pace. 
Many tracks of different individuals and different 
species are often found crossing each other, and 
crowded, like impressions of feet upon the shores 
of a muddy stream, where ducks and geese resort."* 

* Dr. Buckland, quoting an article by Professor Hitchcock, in 
the American Journal of Science and Arts, 1836. 


Some of these prints indicate small animals, but 
others denote birds of what would now be an un- 
usually large size. One animal, having a foot 
fifteen inches in length, (one-half more than that 
of the ostrich,) and a stride of from four to six 
feet, has been appropriately entitled, ornithichnites 




The chronicles of this period consist of a series of 
beds, mostly calcareous, taking their general name 
{Oolite System) from a conspicuous member of 
them — the oolite — a limestone composed of an 
aggregation of small round grains or spherules, 
and so called from its fancied resemblance to a 
cluster of eggs, or the roe of a fish. This texture 
of stone is novel and striking. It is supposed to 
be of chemical origin, each spherule being an 
aggregation of particles round a central nucleus. 
The oolite system is largely developed in England, 
France, Westphalia, and Northern Italy; it ap- 
pears in Northern India and Africa, and patches 
of it exist in Scotland, and in the vale of the Mis- 
sissippi. It may of course be yet discovered in 
many other parts of the world. 
F 3 


The series, as shewn in the neighbourhood of 
Bath, is (beginning with the lowest) as follows : — 
1. Lias, a set of strata variously composed of lime- 
stone, clay, marl, and shale, clay being predomi- 
nant; 2. Lower oolitic formation, including, be- 
sides the great oolite bed of central England, ful- 
lers' earth beds, forest marble, and cornbrash ; 
3. Middle oolitic formation, composed of two sub- 
groups, the Oxford clay and coral rag, the latter 
being a mere layer of the works of the coral 
polype ; 4. Upper oolitic formation, including 
what are called Kimmeridge clay and Portland 
oolite. In Yorkshire there is an additional group 
above the lias, and in Sutherlandshire there is 
another group above that again. In the wealds 
(moorlands) of Kent and Sussex, there is, in like 
manner, above the fourth of the Bath series, 
another additional group, to which the name of 
the Wealden has been given, from its situation, and 
which, composed of sandstones and clays, is sub- 
divided into Purbeck beds, Hastings sand, and 
Weald clay. 

There are no particular appearances of disturb- 
ance between the close of the new red sandstone 
and the beginning of the oolite system, as far as 


has been observed in England. Yet there is a 
great change in the materials of the rocks of the 
two formations, shewing that while the bottoms of 
the seas of the one period had been chiefly arena- 
ceous, those of the other were chiefly clayey and 
limy. And there is an equal difference between 
the two periods in respect of both botany and 
zoology. While the new red sandstone shews 
comparatively scanty traces of organic creation, 
those in the oolite are extremely abundant, par- 
ticularly in the department of animals, and more 
particularly still of sea mollusca, which, it has 
been observed, are always the more conspicuous 
in proportion to the predominance of calcareous 
rocks. It is also remarkable that the animals of 
the oohtic system are entirely different in species 
from those of the preceding age, and that these 
species cease before the next. In this system we 
likewise find that uniformity over great space 
which has been remarked of the Faunas of earlier 
formations. " In the equivalent deposits in the 
Himalaya Mountains, at Fernando Po, in the 
region north of the Cape of Good Hope, and in 
the Run of Cutch, and other parts of Hindostan, 
fossils have been discovered, which, as far as En- 


glish naturalists who have seen them can deter- 
mine, are undistinguishable from certain oolite 
and lias fossils of Europe."* 

The dry land of this age presented cycadeae, 
" a beautiful class of plants between the palms and 
conifers, having a tall, straight trunk, terminating 
in a magnificent crown of foliage." f There were 
tree ferns, but in smaller proportion than in former 
ages; also equisetacese, lilia, and conifers. The 
vegetation was generally analogous to that of the 
Cape of Good Hope arid Australia, which seems to 
argue a climate (we must remember, a universal 
climate) between the tropical and temperate. It 
was, however, sufficiently luxuriant in some in- 
stances to produce thin seams of coal, for such are 
found in the oolite formation of both Yorkshire 
and Sutherland. The sea, as for ages before, con- 
tained algae, of which, however, only a few species 
have been preserved to our day. The lower classes 
ofthe inhabitants of the ocean were unprecedentedly 
abundant. The polypiaria were in such abundance 
as to form whole strata of themselves. The cri- 
noidea and echinites were also extremely numerous. 
Shell mollusks, in hundreds of new species, oc- 

* Murchison's Silurian System, p. 583. 
f Buckland. 


cupied the bottoms of the seas of those ages, while 
of the swimming shell-fish, ammonites and belem- 
nites, there were also many scores of varieties. 
The belemnite here calls for some particular notice. 
It commences in the oolite, and terminates in the 
next formation. It is an elongated, conical shell, 
terminating in a point, and having, at the larger 
end, a cavity for the residence of the animal, with 
a series of air-chambers below. The animal, placed 
in the upper cavity, could raise or depress itself in 
the water at pleasure by a pneumatic operation 
upon the entral air tube pervading its shell. Its 
tentacula, sent abroad over the summit of the 
shell, searched the sea for prey. The creature had 
an ink-bag, with which it could muddle the water 
around it, to protect itself from more powerful 
animals, and, strange to say, this has been found 
so well preserved that an artist has used it in one 
instance as a paint, wherewith to delineate the be- 
lemnite itself. 

The Crustacea discovered in this formation are 
less numerous.' There are many fishes, some of 
which (^acrodus, psammodus, &c.,) are presumed 
from remains of their palatal bones, to have been 
of the gigantic cartilaginous class, now represented 
by such as the cestraceon. It has been considered 


by Professor Owen as worthy of notice, that, the 
cestraceon being an inhabitant of the Australian 
seas, we have, in both the botany and ichthyology 
of this period, an analogy to that continent. The 
pycnodontes, (thick-toothed,) and lepidoides, 
(having thick scales,) are other families described 
by M. Agassiz as extensively prevalent. In the 
shallow waters of the oolitic formation, the ichthyo- 
saurus, plesiosaurus, and other huge saurian carni- 
vora of the preceding age, plied, in increased 
numbers, their destructive vocation.* To them 
were added new genera, the cetiosaurus, moso- 
saurus, and some others, all of similar character 
and habits. 

Land reptiles abounded, including species of 
the pterodactyle of the preceding age — tortoises, 
trionyces, crocodilians — and the pliosaurus, a crea- 
ture which appears to have formed a link between 
the plesiosaurus and the crocodile. We know of 
at least six species of the flying saurian, the ptero- 
dactyle, in this formation. 

* In some instances, these fossils are found with the contents 
of the stomach faithfully preserved, and even with pieces of the 
external skin. The pellets ejected by them (coproUtes) are found 
in vast numbers, each generally enclosed in a nodule of ironstone, 
and sometimes shewing remains- of the fishes which had formed 
their food. 


Now, for the first time, we find remains of in- 
sects, an order of animals not well calculated for 
fossil preservation, and which are therefore amongst 
the rarest of the animal tribes found in rocks, 
though they are the most numerous of all living 
families. A single libellula (dragon-fly) was found 
in the Stonesfield slate, a member of the lower 
oolitic group quarried near Oxford; and this 
was for several years the only specimen known to 
exist so early ; but now many species have been 
found in a corresponding rock at Solenhofen, in 
Germany. It is remarkable that the remains of 
insects are found most plentifully near the remains 
of pterodactyles, to which undoubtedly they 
served as prey. 

The first glimpse of the highest class of the ver- 
tebrate sub-kingdom — mammalia — is obtained from 
the Stonesfield slate, where there has been found 
the jaw-bone of a quadruped evidently insecti- 
vorous, and inferred, from peculiarities in the 
structure of that small fragment, to have belonged 
to the marsupial family, (pouched animals). It 
may be observed, although no specimens of so 
high a class of animals as mammalia are found 
earlier, such may nevertheless have existed: the 
defect may be in our not having found them ; but, 


Other things considered, the probability is that 
heretofore there were no mammifers. It is an in- 
teresting circumstance that the first mammifers 
found should have belonged to the marsupialia, 
when the place of that order in the scale of creation 
is considered. In the imperfect structure of their 
brain, deficient in the organs connecting the two 
hemispheres — and in the mode of gestation, which 
is only in small part uterine — this family is 
clearly a link between the oviparous vertebrata 
(birds, reptiles, and fishes) and the higher mam- 
mifers. This is further established by their pos- 
sessing a faint development of two canals passing 
from near the anus to the external surface of the 
viscera, which are fully possessed in reptiles and 
fishes, for the purpose of supplying aerated water 
to the blood circulating in particular vessels, but 
which are unneeded by mammifers. Such rudi- 
ments of organs in certain species which do not 
require them in any degree, are common in both 
the animal and vegetable kingdoms, but are always 
most conspicuous in families approaching in cha- 
racter to those classes to which the full organs are 
proper. This subject will be more particularly 
adverted to in the sequel. 

The highest part of the oolitic formation pre- 


sents some phenomena of an unusual and inte- 
resting character, which demand special notice. 
Immediately above the upper oolitic group in 
Buckinghamshire, in the vicinity of Weymouth, 
and other situations, there is a thin stratum, usually 
called by workmen the dirt-bed, which appears, 
from incontestable evidence, to have been a soil, 
formed, like soils of the present day, in the course 
of time, upon a surface which had previously been 
the bottom of the sea. The dirt-bed contains 
exuviae of tropical trees, accumulated through time, 
as the forest shed its honours on the spot where it 
grew, and became itself decayed. Near Weymouth 
there is a piece of this stratum, in which stumps of 
trees remain rooted, mostly erect or slightly in- 
clined, and from one to three feet high ; while 
trunks of the same forest, also silicified, lie im- 
bedded on the surface of the soil in which they 

Above this bed lie those which have been called 
the Wealden, from their full development in the 
Weald of Sussex ; and these as incontestably argue 
that the dry land forming the dirt-bed had next 
afterwards become the area of brackish estuaries, or 
lakes partially connected with the sea; for the 
Wealden strata contain exuviae of fresh -water 


tribes, besides those of the great saurians and 
chelonia. The area of this estuary comprehends 
the whole south-east province of England. A 
geologist thus confidently narrates the subsequent 
events : " Much calcareous matter was first de- 
posited [in this estuary], and in it were entombed 
myriads of shells, apparently analogous to those of 
the vivipara. Then came a thick envelope of sand, 
sometimes interstratified with mud ; and, finally, 
muddy matter prevailed. The solid surface beneath 
the waters would appear to have suffered a long con- 
tinued and gradual depression, which was as gra- 
dually filled, or nearly so, with transported matter ; 
in the end, however, after a depression of several 
hundred feet, the sea again entered upon the area, 
not suddenly or violently — for the Wealden rocks 
pass gradually into the superincumbent cretaceous 
series — but so quietly, that the mud containing 
the remains of terrestrial and fresh-water creatures 
was tranquilly covered up by sands replete with 
marine exuviae."* A subsequent depression of 
the same area, to the depth of at least three hun- 
dred fathoms, is believed to have taken place, to 
admit of the deposition of the cretaceous beds 
lying above. 

* De la Beche's Geological Researches, p. 344. 


From the scattered way in which remains of the 
larger terrestrial animals occur in the Wealden, 
and the intermixture of pebbles of the special ap- 
pearance of those worn in rivers, it is also inferred 
that the estuary which once covered the south- 
east part of England was the mouth of a river of 
that far-descending class of which the Mississippi 
and Amazon are examples. What part of the 
earth's surface presented the dry land through 
which that and other similar rivers flowed, no one 
can tell for certain. It has been surmised, that 
the particular one here spoken of may have flowed 
from a point not nearer than the site of the present 
Newfoundland. Professor Philips has suggested, 
from the analogy of the mineral composition, that 
anciently elevated coal strata may have composed 
the dry land from which the sandy matters of 
these strata were washed. Such a deposit as the 
Wealden almost necessarily implies a local, not a 
general condition ; yet it has been thought that 
similar strata and remains exist in the Pays de 
Bray, near Beauvais. This leads to the supposition 
that there may have been, in that age, a series of 
river-receiving estuaries along the border of some 
such great ocean as the Atlantic, of which that of 
modern Sussex is only an example. 



The record of this period consists of a series of 
strata, in which chalk beds make a conspicuous 
appearance, and which is therefore called the cre- 
taceous system or formation. In England, a long 
stripe, extending from Yorkshire to Kent, presents 
the cretaceous beds upon the surface, generally 
lying conformably upon the oolite, and in many 
instances rising into bold escarpments towards the 
west. The celebrated cliffs of Dover are of this 
formation. It extends into northern France, and 
thence north-westward into Germany, whence it is 
traced into Scandinavia and Russia. The same 
system exists in North America, and probably in 
other parts of the earth not yet geologically inves- 
tigated. Being a marine deposit, it establishes 
that seas existed at the time of its formation on 


the tracts occupied bj it, while some of its organic 
remains prove that, in the neighbourhood of those 
seas, there were tracts of dry land. 

The cretaceous formation in England presents 
beds chiefly sandy in the lowest part, chiefly clayey 
in the middle, and chiefly of chalk in the upper 
part, the chalk beds being never absent, which 
some of the lower are in several places. In the 
vale of the Mississippi, again, the true chalk is 
wholly, or all but wholly absent. In the south of 
England, the lower beds are, (reckoning from the 
lowest upwards), 1. ShankJand or greensands " a 
triple alternation of sands and sandstones with 
clay ;" 2. Gait, " a stiff blue or black clay, abound- 
ing in shells, which frequently possess a pearly 
lustre ;" 3. Hard chalk; 4. Chalk with flints; these 
two last being generally white, but in some dis- 
tricts red, and in others yellow. The whole are, 
in England, about 1200 feet thick, shewing the 
considerable depths of the ocean in which the de- 
posits were made. 

Chalk is a carbonate of lime, and the manner of 
its production in such vast quantities was long a 
subject of speculation among geologists. Some 
light seemed to be thrown upon the subject a few 
years ago, when it was observed, that the detritus 


of coral reefs in the present tropical seas gave a 
powder, undistinguishable, when dried, from ordi- 
nary chalk. It then appeared likely that the chalk 
beds were the detritus of the corals which were in 
the oceans of that era. Mr. Darwin, who made 
some curious inquiries on this point, further sug- 
gested, that the matter might have intermediately 
passed through the bodies of worms and fish, such 
as feed on the corals of the present day, and in whose 
stomachs he has found impure chalk. This, how- 
ever, cannot be a full explanation of the production 
of chalk, if we admit some more recent discoveries 
of Professor Ehrenberg. That master of micro- 
scopic investigation announces, that chalk is com- 
posed partly of " inorganic particles of irregular 
elliptical structure and granular slaty disposition," 
and partly of shells of inconceivable minuteness, 
" varying from the one- twelfth to the two hundred 
and eighty-eighth part of a line" — a cubic inch 
of the substance containing above ten millions of 
them ! The chalk of the north of Europe contains, 
he says, a larger proportion of the inorganic matter ; 
that of the south, a larger proportion of the organic 
matter, being in some instances almost entirely 
composed of it. He has been able to classify 
many of these creatures, some of them being allied 


to the nautili, nummuli, cjprides, &c. The shells 
of some are calcareous, of others siliceous, M. 
Ehrenberg has likewise detected microscopic sea- 
plants in the chalk. 

The distinctive feature of the uppermost chalk 
beds in England, is the presence of flint nodules. 
These are generally disposed in layers parallel to 
each other. It was readily presumed by geologists 
that these masses were formed by a chemical aggre- 
gation of particles of silica, originally held in solu- 
tion in the mass of the chalk. But whence the 
silica in a substance so different from it ? Ehren- 
berg suggests that it is composed of the siliceous 
coverings of a portion of the microscopic creatures, 
whose shells he has in other instances detected in 
their original condition. It is remarkable that the 
chalk with flint abounds in the north of Europe ; 
Xh.?itwithoutfLuits in the south; while in the northern 
chalk siliceous animalcules are wanting, and in the 
southern present in great quantities. The conclu- 
sion seems but natural, that in the one case the 
siliceous exuviae have been left in their original 
form ; in the other dissolved chemically, and ag- 
gregated on the common principle of chemical 
affinity into nodules of flint, probably concentrat- 
ing, in every instance, upon a piece of decaying 


organic matter, as has been the case with the 
nodules of ironstone in the earlier rocks, and the 
spherules of the oolite. 

What is more remarkable, M, Ehrenberg has 
ascertained that at least fifty-seven species of the 
microscopic animals of the chalk, being infusoria 
and calcareous-shelled polythalamia, are still found 
living in various parts of the earth. These species 
are the most abundant in the rock. Singly they 
are the most unimportant of all animals, but in the 
mass, forming as they do such enormous strata 
over a large part of the earth's surface, they have 
an importance greatly exceeding that of the largest 
and noblest of the beasts of the field. Moreover, 
these species have a peculiar interest, as the only 
specific types of that early age which are repro- 
duced in the present day. Species of sea mol- 
lusks, of reptiles, and of mammifers, have been 
changed again and again, since the cretaceous era ; 
and it is not till a long subsequent age that we find 
the first traces of any other of even the humblest 
species which now exist; but here have these 
humble infusoria and polythalamia kept their place 
on earth through all its revolutions since that time, 
— are we to say, safe in their very humility, which 
might adapt them to a greater variety of circum- 


stances than most other animals, or are we required 
to look for some other explanation of the pheno- 
menon ? 

All the ordinary and more observable orders of 
the inhabitants of the sea, except the cetacea, have 
been found in the cretaceous formation — zoophytes, 
radiaria, moUusks, Crustacea, (in great variety of 
species,) and fishes in smaller variety. In Europe, 
remains of the marine saurians have been found ; 
they may be presumed to have become ex- 
tinct in that part of the globe before this time, 
their place and destructive office being perhaps 
supplied by cartilaginous fishes, of which the teeth 
are found in great quantities. In America, how- 
ever, remains of the plesiosaurus have been disco- 
vered in this part of the stratified series. The 
reptiles, too, so numerous in the two preceding 
periods, appear to have now much diminished in 
numbers. One, entitled the mosaesaurus, seems 
to have held an intermediate place between the 
monitor and iguana, and to have been about 
twenty-five feet long, with a tail calculated to 
assist it powerfully in swimming. Crocodiles 
and turtles existed, and amongst the fishes were 
some of a saurian character. 

Fuci abounded in the seas of this era. Con- 


fervse are found enclosed in flints. Of terrestrial 
vegetation, as of terrestrial animals, the specimens 
in the European area are comparatively rare, ren- 
dering it probable that there was no dry land near. 
The remains are chiefly of ferns, conifers, and 
cycadeas, but in the two former cases we have only 
cones and leaves. There have been discovered 
many pieces of wood, containing holes drilled by 
the teredo, and thus shewing that they had been 
long drifted about in the ocean before being en- 
tombed at the bottom. 

The series in America corresponding to this, 
entitled the ferruginous sand formation, presents 
fossils generally identical with those of Europe, 
not excepting the fragments of drilled wood ; shew- 
ing that, in this, as in earlier ages, there was a 
parity of conditions for animal life over a vast tract 
of the earth's surface. To European reptiles, the 
American formation adds a gigantic one, styled the 
saurodon, from the lizard-like character of its 

We have seen that footsteps of birds are consi- 
dered to have been discovered in America, in the 
new red sandstone. Some similar isolated pheno- 
mena occur in the subsequent formations. Mr. 
Mantell discovered some bones of birds, apparently 


waders, in the Wealden. The immediate con- 
nexion of that set of birds with land, may account, 
of course, for their containing a terrestrial organic 
relic, which the marine beds above and below did 
not possess. In the slate of Glarus, in Switzer- 
land, corresponding to the English gait, in the 
chalk formation, the remains of a bird have been 
found. From a chalk bed near Maidstone, have 
likewise been extracted some remains of a bird, 
supposed to have been of the long-winged swimmer 
family, and equal in size to the albatross. These, 
it must be owned, are less strong traces of the 
birds than we possess of the reptiles and other 
tribes; but it must be remembered, that the evi- 
dence of fossils, as to the absence of any class of 
animals from a certain period of the earth's history, 
can never be considered as more than negative. 
Animals, of which we find no remains in a parti- 
cular formation, may, nevertheless, have lived at 
the time, and it may have only been from unfa- 
vourable circumstances that their remains have 
not been preserved for our inspection. The single 
circumstance of their being little liable to be car- 
ried down into seas, might be the cause of their 
non-appearance in our quarries. There is at the 
same time a limit to uncertainty on this point. We 


see, from what remains have been found in the whole 
series, a clear progress throughout, from humble to 
superior types of being. Hence we derive a light 
as to w^hat animals may have existed at particular 
times, which is in some measure independent 
of the specialties of fossilology. The birds are 
below the mammalia in the animal scale ; and 
therefore they may be supposed to have existed 
about the time of the new red sandstone and oolite, 
although we find but slight traces of them in those 
formations, and, it may be said, till a considerably 
later period. 



The chalk-beds are the highest which extend over 
a considerable space ; but in hollows of these beds, 
comparatively limited in extent, there have been 
formed series of strata — clays, limestones, marls, 
alternating — to which the name of the Tertiary 
Formation has been applied. London and Paris 
alike rest on basins of this formation, and another 
such basin extends from near Winchester, under 
Southampton, and re-appears in the Isle of Wight. 
There is a patch, or fragment of the formation in 
one of the Hebrides. A stripe of it extends along 
the east coast of North America, from Massa- 
chusetts to Florida. It is also found in Sicily and 
Italy, insensibly blended with formations still in 
progress. Though comparatively a local formation, 


it is not of the less importance as a record of the 
condition of the earth during a certain period. 
As in other formations, it is marked, in the most 
distant locaUties, by identity of organic remains. 

The hollows filled by the tertiary formation 
must be considered as the beds of estuaries left at 
the conclusion of the cretaceous period. We have 
seen that an estuary, either by the drifting up of 
its mouth, or a change of level in that quarter, 
may be supposed to have become an inland sheet 
of water, and that, by another change, of the re- 
verse kind, it may be supposed to have become an 
estuary again. Such changes the Paris basin appears 
to have undergone oftener than once, for, first, we 
have there a fresh-water formation of clay and 
limestone beds ; then, a marine-limestone forma- 
tion ; next, a second fresh w^ater formation, in 
which the material of the celebrated plaster of 
Paris (gypsum) is included ; then, a second marine 
formation of sandy and limy beds; and finally, 
a third series of fresh-water strata. Such alter- 
nations occur in other examples of the tertiary 
formation likewise. 

The tertiary beds present all but an entirely 
new set of animals, and as we ascend in the series, 
we find more and more of these identical with 


species still existing upon earth, as if we had now 
reached the dawn of the present state of the 
zoology of our planet. By the study of the shells 
alone, Mr. Lyell has been enabled to divide the 
whole term into four sub-periods, to which he has 
given names with reference to the proportions 
which they respectively present of surviving 
species— first, the eocene, (from \ms, the dawn ; 
y^cLivQ^^ recent ;) second, the miocene, (/xstwv, less ;) 
third, older pliocene, (irKeiuv, more;) fourth, newer 


The eocene period presents, in three continental 
groups, 1238 species of shells, of which forty-two, 
or 3*5 per cent, yet flourish. Some of these are 
remarkable enough ; but they all sink into insigni- 
ficance beside the mammalian remains which the 
lower eocene deposits of the Paris basin present to 
us, shewing that the land had now become the 
theatre of an extensive creation of the highest 
class of animals. Cuvier ascertained about fifty 
species of these, all of them long since extinct. 
A considerable number are pachydermatai^ of a 

* Thick-skinned animals. This term has been given by Cu- 
vier to an order in which the hog, elephant, horse, and rhino- 
ceros are included. 


character approximating to the South American 
tapir : the names, palaeotherium, anthracotherium, 
anoplotherium, lophiodon, &c., have been ap- 
plied to them with a consideration of more or less 
conspicuous peculiarities ; but a description of the 
first may give some general idea of the whole. It 
was about the size of a horse, but more squat and 
clumsy, and with a heavier head, and a lower jaw 
shorter than the upper ; the feet, also, instead of 
hooves, presented three large toes, rounded, and 
unprovided with claws. These animals were all 
herbivorous. Amongst an immense number of 
others are found many new reptiles, some of them 
adapted for fresh water ; species of birds allied to 
the sea-lark, curlew, quail, buzzard, owl, and peli- 
can ; species allied to the dormouse and squirrel ; 
also the opossum and racoon ; and species allied 
to the genette, fox, and wolf. 


In the miocene sub-period, the shells give 
eighteen per cent, of existing species, shewing a 
considerable advance from the preceding era, with 
respect to the inhabitants of the sea. The advance 
in the land animals is less marked, but yet consi- 
derable. The predominating forms are still pachy- 


dermatous, and the tapir type continues to be con- 
spicuous. One animal of this kind, called the 
dinotheiium, is supposed to have been not less 
than eighteen feet long ; it had a mole-like form 
of the shoulder-blade, conferring the power of 
digging for food, and a couple of tusks turning 
down from the lower jaw, by which it could have 
attached itself, like the walrus, to a shore or bank, 
while its body floated in the water. Dr. Buck- 
land considers this and some similar miocene ani- 
mals, as adapted for a semi-aquatic life, in a region 
where lakes abounded. Besides the tapirs, we 
have in this era animals allied to the glutton, the 
bear, the dog, the horse, the hog, and lastly, 
several felinae, (creatures of which the lion is the 
type ;) all of which are new forms, as far as we 
know. There was also an abundance of marine 
mammalia, seals, dolphins, lamantins, walruses, 
and whales, none of which had previously ap- 


The shells of the older pliocene give from thirty- 
five to fifty ; those of the newer, from ninety to 
ninety-five per cent, of existing species. The 
pachydermata of the preceding era now disappear, 
G 3 


and are replaced by others belonging to still exist- 
ing families — elephant, hippopotamus, rhinoceros 
— though now extinct as species. Some of these 
are startling, from their enormous magnitude. The 
great mastodon, whose remains are found in 
abundance in America, was a species of elephant, 
judged, from peculiarities of its teeth, to have 
lived on aquatic plants, and reaching the height of 
twelve feet. The mammoth was another elephant, 
but supposed to have survived till comparatively 
recent times, as a specimen, in all respects entire, 
was found in 1801, preserved in ice, in Siberia. 
We are more surprised by finding such gigantic 
proportions in an animal called the megatherium, 
which ranks in an order now assuming much 
humbler forms — the edentata — to which the sloth, 
ant-eater, and armadillo belong. The megatherium 
had a skeleton of enormous solidity, with an ar- 
mour-clad body, and five toes, terminating in 
huge claws, wherewith to grasp the branches, from 
which, like its existing congener, the sloth, it de- 
rived its food. The megalonyx was a similar 
animal, only somewhat less than the preceding. 
Finally, the pliocene gives us for the first time, 
oxen, deer, camels, and other specimens of the 


Such is an outline of the fauna of the tertiary 
era, as ascertained by the illustrious naturalists 
who first devoted their attention to it. It will be 
observed that it brings us up to the felinas, or car- 
nivora, a considerably elevated point in the animal 
scale, but still leaving a blank for the quadrumana 
(monkeys) and for man, who collectively form, as 
will be afterwards seen, the first group in that scale. 
It sometimes happens, however, as we have seen, 
that a few rare traces of a particular class of 
animals are in time found in formations originally 
thought to be destitute of them, displaying as it 
were a dawn of that department of creation. Such 
seems to be the case with at least the quadrumana. 
A jaw-bone and tooth of an animal of this order, 
and belonging to the genus macacus, were found 
in the London clay, (eocene,) at Kyson, near Wood- 
bridge, in 1839. Another jaw-bone, containing 
several teeth, supposed to have belonged to a species 
of monkey about three feet high, was discovered 
about the same time in a stratum of marl sur- 
mounted by compact limestone, in the department 
of Gers, at the foot of the Pyrenees. Associated 
with this last were remains of not less than thirty 
mammiferous quadrupeds, including three species 
of rhinoceros, a large anoplotherium, three species 


of deer, two antelopes, a true dog, a large cat, an 
animal like a weazel, a small hare, and a huge 
species of the edentata. Both of these places are 
considerably to the north of any region now inha- 
bited by the monkey tribes. Fossil remains of 
quadrumana have been found in at least two other 
parts of the earth, — namely, the sub-Himalayan 
hills, near the Sutlej, and in Brazil, (both in the 
tertiary strata ;) the first being a large species of 
semnopithecus, and the second, a still larger animal 
belonging to the American group of monkeys, but 
a new genus, and denominated by its discoverer. 
Dr. Lund, protopithecus. The latter would be 
four feet in height. 

One remarkable circumstance connected with 
the tertiary formation remains to be noticed, — 
namely, the prevalence of volcanic action at that 
era. In Auvergne, in Catalonia, near Venice, 
and in the vicinity of Rome and Naples, lavas 
exactly resembling the produce of existing vol- 
canoes, are associated and intermixed with the 
lacustrine as well as marine tertiaries. The super- 
ficies of tertiaries in England is disturbed by two 
great swells, forming what are called anticlinal 
axes, one of which divides the London from the 
Hampshire basin, while the other passes through 


the Isle of Wight, both throwing the strata down 
at a violent inclination towards the north, as if the 
subterranean disturbing force had waved forward 
in that direction. The Pyrenees, too, and Alps, 
have both undergone elevation since the deposition 
of the tertiaries ; and in Sicily there are mountains 
which have risen three thousand feet since the 
deposition of some of the most recent of these rocks. 
The general effect of these operations was of course 
to extend the land surface, and to increase the 
variety of its features, thus improving the natural 
drainage, and generally adapting the earth for the 
reception of higher classes of animals. 




We have now completed our survey of the series 
of stratified rocks, and traced in their fossils the 
progress of organic creation down to a time which 
seems not long antecedent to the appearance of 
man. There are, nevertheless, monuments of still 
another era or space of time which it is all but 
certain did also precede that event. 

Over the rock formations of all eras, in various 
parts of the globe, but confined in general to 
situations not very elevated, there is a layer of stiff 
clay, mostly of a blue colour, mingled with frag- 
ments of rock of all sizes, travel-worn, and other- 
wise, and to which geologists give the name of 
diluvium, as being apparentl}^ the produce of some 
vast flood, or of the sea thrown into an unusual 


agitation. It seems to indicate that, at the time 
when it was laid down, much of the present dry 
land was under the ocean, a supposition which we 
shall see supported by other evidence. The in- 
cluded masses of rock have been carefully inspected 
in many places, and traced to particular parent 
beds at considerable distances. Connected with 
these phenomena are certain rock surfaces on the 
slopes of hills and elsewhere, which exhibit groov- 
ings and scratchings, such as we might suppose 
would be produced by a quantity of loose blocks 
hurried along over them by a flood. Another 
associated phenomenon is that called crag and tailf 
which exists in many places, — namely, a rocky 
mountain, or lesser elevation, presenting on one 
side the naked rock in a more or less abrupt form, 
and on the other a gentle slope ; the sites of Wind- 
sor, Edinburgh, and Stirling, with their respective 
castles, are specimens of crag and tail. Finally, 
we may advert to certain long ridges of clay and 
gravel which arrest the attention of travellers on 
the surface of Sweden and Finland, and which are 
also found in the United States, where, indeed, 
the whole of these phenomena have been observed 
over a large surface, as well as in Europe. It is 
very remarkable that the direction from which the 


diluvial blocks have generally come, the lines of 
the grooved rock surfaces, the direction of the 
crag and tail eminences, and that of the clay and 
gravel ridges — phenomena, be it observed, ex- 
tending over the northern parts of both Europe 
and America — are all from the north and north- 
west towards the south-east. We thus acquire the 
idea of a pow^erful current moving in a direction 
from north-west to south-east, carrying, besides 
mud, masses of rock which furrowed the solid sur- 
faces as they passed along, abrading the north- 
west faces of many hills, but leaving the slopes in 
the opposite direction uninjured, and in some 
instances forming long ridges of detritus along the 
surface. These are curious considerations, and it 
has become a question of much interest, by what 
means, and under what circumstances, was such a 
current produced. One hypothetical answer has 
some plausibility about it. From an investigation 
of the nature of glaciers, and some observations 
which seem to indicate that these have at one time 
extended to lower levels, and existed in regions 
(the Scottish Highlands an example) where there 
is now no perennial snow, it has been surmised 
that there was a time, subsequent to the tertiary 
era, when the circumpolar ice extended far into 


the temperate zone, and formed a lofty, as well as 
extensive accumulation. A change to a higher 
temperature, producing a sudden thaw of this mass, 
might set free such a quantity of water as would 
form a large flood, and the southward flow of this 
deluge, joined to the direction which it would ob- 
tain from the rotatory motion of the globe, would 
of course produce that compound or south-easterly 
direction which the phenomena require. All of 
these speculations are as yet far too deficient in 
facts to be of much value ; and I must freely own 
that, for one, I attach little importance to them. 
All that we can legitimately infer from the dilu- 
vium is, that the northern parts of Europe and 
America were then under the sea, and that a strong 
current set over them. 

Connected with the diluvium is the history of 
ossiferous caverns, of which specimens singly exist 
at Kirkdale in Yorkshire, Gailenreuth in Fran- 
conia, and other places. They occur in the calca- 
reous strata, as the great caverns generally do, but 
have in all instances been naturally closed up till 
the recent period of their discovery. The floors 
are covered with what appears to be a bed of the 
diluvial clay, over which rests a crust of stalagmite, 
the result of the droppings from the roof since the 


time when the clay-bed was laid down. In the 
instances above specified, and several others, there 
have been found, under the clay bed, assemblages 
of the bones of animals, of many various kinds. 
At Kirkdale, for example, the remains of twenty- 
four species were ascertained — namely, pigeon, 
lark, raven, duck, and partridge ; mouse, water-rat, 
rabbit, hare, deer, (three species,) ox, horse, hip- 
popotamus, rhinoceros, elephant, weazel, fox, wolf, 
bear, tiger, hyena. From many of the bones of 
the gentler of these animals being found in a 
broken state, it is supposed that the cave was a 
haunt of hyenas and other predaceous animals, by 
which the smaller ones were here consumed. 
This must have been at a time antecedent to the 
submersion which produced the diluvium, since 
the bones are covered by a bed of that formation. 
It is impossible not to see here a very natural 
series of incidents. First, the cave is frequented 
by wild beasts, who make it a kind of charnel- 
house. Then, submerged in the current which has 
been spoken of, it receives a clay flooring from the 
waters containing that matter in suspension. 
Finally, raised from the water, but with no mouth 
to the open air, it remains unintruded on for a 
long series of ages, during which the clay flooring 


receives a new calcareous covering, from the drop- 
pings of the roof. Dr. Buckland, who examined 
and described the Kirkdale cave, was at first of 
opinion that it presented a physical evidence of 
the Noachian deluge; but he afterwards saw 
reason to consider its phenomena as of a time far 
apart from that event, which rests on evidence of 
an entirely different kind. 

Our attention is next drawn to the erratic blocks 
or boulders, which in many parts of the earth are 
thickly strewn over the surface, particularly in the 
north of Europe. Some of these blocks are many 
tons in weight, yet are clearly ascertained to have 
belonged originally to situations at a great dis- 
tance. Fragments, for example, of the granite of 
Shap Fell are found in every direction around to 
the distance of fifty miles, one piece being placed 
high upon Criffel Mountain, pn the opposite side 
of the Solway estuary ; so also are fragments of 
the Alps found far up the slopes of the Jura. 
There are even blocks on the east coast of Eng- 
land, supposed to have travelled from Norway. 
The only rational conjecture which can be formed 
as to the transport of such masses from so great a 
distance, is one which presumes them to have 
been carried and dropped by icebergs, while the 


space between their original and final sites was 
under ocean. Icebergs do even now carry off 
such masses from the polar coasts, which, falling 
when the retaining ice melts, must take up situa- 
tions at the bottom of the sea analogous to those in 
which we find the erratic blocks of the present day. 
As the diluvium and erratic blocks clearly sup- 
pose one last long submersion of the surface, {last, 
geologically speaking,) there is another set of ap- 
pearances which as manifestly shew the steps by 
which the land was made afterwards to reappear. 
These consist of terraces, which have been detected 
near, and at some distance inland from, the coast 
lines of Scandinavia, Britain, America, and other 
regions ; being evidently ancient beaches, or plat- 
forms, on which the margin of the sea at one time 
rested. They have been observed at different 
heights above the present sea-level, from twenty to 
above twelve hundred feet ; and in many places 
they are seen rising above each other in succession, 
to the number of three, four, and even more. 
The smooth flatness of these terraces, with gene- 
rally a slight inclination towards the sea, the 
sandy composition of many of them, and, in some 
instances, the preservation of marine shells in the 
ground, identify them perfectly with existing sea- 


beaches, notwithstanding the cuts and scoopings 
which have every here and there been effected in 
them by water-courses. The irresistible inference 
from the phenomena is, that the highest was first 
the coast line ; then an elevation took place, and 
the second highest became so, the first being now^ 
raised into the air and thrown inland. Then, upon 
another elevation, the sea began to form, at its 
new point of contact with the land, the third 
highest beach, and so on down to the platform 
nearest to the present sea-beach. Phenomena of 
this kind become comparatively familiar to us, 
when we hear of evidence that the last sixty feet 
of the elevation of Sweden, and the last eighty-five 
of that of Chili, have taken place since man first 
dwelt in those countries ; nay, that the elevation 
of the former country goes on at this time at the 
rate of about forty-five inches in a century, and that 
a thousand miles of the Chilian coast rose four feet 
in one night, under the influence of a powerful 
earthquake, so lately as 1822. Subterranean forces, 
of the kind then exemplified in Chili, supply a 
ready explanation of the whole phenomena, though 
some other operating causes have been suggested. 
In an inquiry on this point, it becomes of conse- 
quence to learn some particulars respecting the 


levels. Taking a particular beach, it is generally 
observed that the level continues the same along a 
considerable number of miles, and nothing like 
breaks or hitches has as yet been detected in any 
case. A second and a third beach are also ob- 
served to be exactly parallel to the first. These 
facts would seem to indicate quiet elevating move- 
ments, uniform over a large tract. It must, how- 
ever, be remarked that the raised beaches at one 
part of a coast rarely coincide with those at an- 
other part forty or fifty miles off. We might sup- 
pose this to indicate a limit in that extent of the 
uniformity of the elevating cause, but it would be 
rash to conclude positively that such is the case. 
In the present sea, as is well known, there are dif- 
ferent levels at different places, owing to the ope- 
ration of peculiar local causes, as currents, evapo- 
ration, and the injlux of large rivers into narrow- 
mouthed estuaries. The differences of level in the 
ancient beaches might be occasioned by some such 
causes. But, whatever doubt may rest on this 
minor point, enough has been ascertained to settle 
the main one, that we have in these platforms 
indubitable monuments of the last rise of the land 
from the sea, and the concluding great event of the 
geological history. 

The idea of such a wide-spread and possibly 


universal submersion unavoidably suggests some 
considerations as to the effect which it might have 
upon terrestrial animal life. It seems likely that 
this would be, on such an occasion, extensively, if 
not universally destroyed. Nor does the idea of 
its universal destruction seem the less plausible, 
when we remark, that none of the species of land 
animals heretofore discovered can be detected at a 
subsequent period. The whole seem to have been 
now changed. Some geologists appear much in- 
clined to think that there was at this time a new 
development of terrestrial animal life upon the 
globe, and M. Agassiz, whose opinion on such a 
subject must always be worthy of attention, speaks 
all but decidedly for such a conclusion. It must, 
however, be owned, that proofs for it are still 
scanty, beyond the bare fact of a submersion which 
appears to have had a very wide range. I must 
therefore be content to leave this point, as far as 
geological evidence is concerned, for future affirm- 

There are some other superficial deposits, of less 
consequence on the present occasion than the 
diluvium — namely, lacustrine deposits, or filled-up 
lakes ; alluvium, or the deposits of rivers beside 
their margins ; deltas, the deposits made by great 
ones at their efflux into the sea ; peat mosses ; and 


the vegetable soil. The animal remains found in 
these generally testify to a zoology on the verge 
of that which still exists, or melting into it, there 
being included many species which still exist. In 
a lacustrine deposit at Market- We ighton, in the 
Vale of York, there have been found bones of the 
elephant, rhinoceros, bison, wolf, horse, felis, deer, 
birds, all or nearly all extinct species ; associated 
with thirteen species of land and fresh water shells, 
" exactly identical with types now living in the 
vicinity." In similar deposits in North America, 
are remains of the mammoth, mastodon, buffalo, 
and other animals of extinct and living types. In 
short, these superficial deposits shew precisely 
such remains as might be expected from a time at 
which the present system of things (to use a vague 
but not unexpressive phrase) obtained, but yet so 
far remote in chronology as to allow of the drop- 
ping of many species, through familiar causes, in the 
interval. Still, however, there is no authentic or 
satisfactory instance of human remains being found, 
except in deposits obviously of very modern date ; 
a tolerably strong proof that the creation of our 
own species is a comparatively recent event, and 
one posterior (generally speaking) to all the great 
natural transactions chronicled by geology. 





Thus concludes the wondrous chapter of the 
earth's history which is told by geology. It takes 
up our globe at the period when its original incan- 
descent state had nearly ceased; conducts it 
through what we have every reason to believe 
were vast, or at least very considerable, spaces of 
time, in the course of which many superficial 
changes took place, and vegetable and animal 
life was gradually developed ; and drops it just 
at the point when man was apparently about to 
enter on the scene. The compilation of such a 
history, from materials of so extraordinary a cha- 
racter, and the powerful nature of the evidence 
which these materials aiford, are calculated to ex- 
cite our admiration, and the result must be allowed 


to exalt the dignity of science, as a product of 
man's industry and his reason. 

If there is any thing more than another impressed 
on our minds by the course of the geological his- 
tory, it is, that the same laws and conditions of 
nature now apparent to us have existed throughout 
the whole time, though the operation of some of 
these laws may now be less conspicuous than in 
the early ages, from some of the conditions having 
come to a settlement and a close. That seas have 
flowed and ebbed, and winds disturbed their sur- 
faces, in the time of the secondary rocks, we have 
proof on the yet preserved surfaces of the sands 
which constituted margins of the seas in those 
days. Even the fall of wind-slanted rain is evi- 
denced on the same tablets. The washing down 
of detached matter from elevated grounds, which 
we see rivers constantly engaged in at the present 
time, and which is daily shallowing the seas adja- 
cent to their mouths, only appears to have pro- 
ceeded on a greater scale in earlier epochs. The 
volcanic subterranean force, which we see belching 
forth lavas on the sides of mountains, and throw- 
ing up new elevations by land and sea, was only 
more powerfully operative in distant ages. To 
turn to organic nature, vegetation seems to have 


proceeded then exactly as now. The very alter- 
nations of the seasons has been read in unmis- 
takable characters in sections of the trees of those 
days, precisely as it might be read in a section of 
a tree cut down yesterday. The system of prey 
amongst animals flourished throughout the whole 
of the pre-human period ; and the adaptation of 
all plants and animals to their respective spheres 
of existence was as perfect in those early ages as it 
is still. 

But, as has been observed, the operation of 
the laws may be modified by conditions. At one 
early age, if there was any dry land at all, it was 
perhaps enveloped in an atmosphere unfit for the 
existence of terrestrial animals, and which had to 
go through some changes before that condition 
was altered. In the carbonigenous era, dry land 
seems to have consisted only of clusters of islands, 
and the temperature was much above what now 
obtains at the same places. Volcanic forces, and 
perhaps also the disintegrating power, seem to 
have been on the decrease since the first, or we 
have at least long enjoyed an exemption from 
such paroxysms of the former, as appear to have 
prevailed at the close of the coal formation in 
England and throughout the tertiary era. The 
H 2 


surface has also undergone a gradual progress by 
which it has become always more and more varie- 
gated, and thereby fitted for the residence of a 
higher class of animals. 

In pursuing the progress of the development of 
both plants and animals upon the globe, we have 
seen an advance in both cases, along the line lead- 
ing to the higher forms of organization. Amongst 
plants, we have first sea-weeds, afterwards land 
plants; and amongst these the simpler (cellular 
and cryptogamic) before the more complex. In 
the department of zoology, we see zoophytes, 
radiata, mollusca, articulata, existing for ages be- 
fore there were any higher forms. The first step 
forward gives fishes, the humblest class of the ver- 
tebrata ; and, moreover, the earliest fishes partake 
of the character of the next lowest sub-kingdom, 
the articulata.. Afterwards come land animals, of 
which the first are reptiles, universally allowed to 
be the type next in advance from fishes, and to be 
connected with these by the links of an insensible 
gradation. From reptiles we advance to birds, 
and thence to mammaha, which are commenced 
by marsupialia, acknowledgedly low forms in their 
class. That there is thus a progress of some 
kind, the most superficial glance at the geological 


history is sufficient to convince us. Indeed the 
doctrine of the gradation of animal forms has 
received a remarkable support from the disco- 
veries of this science, as several types formerly 
wanting to a completion of the series have been 
found in a fossil state.* 

It is scarcely less evident, from the geological 
record, that the progress of organic life has ob- 
served some correspondence with the progress of 
physical conditions on the surface. We do not 
know for certain that the sea, at the time when it 
supported radiated, molluscous, and articulated 
families, was incapable of supporting fishes ; but 
causes for such a limitation are far from incon- 
ceivable. The huge saurians appear to have been 
precisely adapted to the low muddy coasts and 
sea margins of the time when they flourished. 
Marsupials appear at the time when the surface 
was generally in that flat, imperfectly variegated 
state in which we find Australia, the region where 
they now live in the greatest abundance, and one 
which has no higher native mammalian type. 
Finally, it was not till the land and sea had come 

* Intervals in the series were numerous in the department of 
the pachydermata ; many of these gaps are now filled up from 
the extinct genera found in the tertiary formation. 


into their present relations, and the former, in its 
principal continents, had acquired the irregularity 
of surface necessary for man, that man appeared. 
We have likewise seen reason for supposing that 
land animals could not have lived before the car- 
bonigenous era, owing to the great charge of car- 
bonic acid gas presumed to have been contained 
in the atmosphere down to that time. The sur- 
plus of this having gone, as M. Brogniart suggests, 
to form the vegetation, whose ruins became 
coal, and the air being thus brought to its present 
state, land animals immediately appeared. So 
also, sea-plants were at first the only specimens of 
vegetation, because there appears to have been no 
place where other plants could be produced or 
supported. Land vegetation followed, at first 
simple, afterwards complex, probably in confor- 
mity with an advance of the conditions required 
by the higher class of plants. In short, we see 
everywhere throughout the geological history, 
strong traces of a parallel advance of the physical 
conditions and the organic forms. 

In examining the fossils of the lower marine 
creation, with a reference to the kind of rock in con- 
nexion, with which they are found, it is observed that 
some strata are attended by a much greater abund- 


ance of both species and individuals than others. 
They abound most in calcareous rocks, which is pre- 
cisely what might be expected, since lime is neces- 
sary for the formation of the shells of the mollusks 
and articulata, and the hard substance of the 
crinoidea and corals ; next in the carboniferous 
series ; next in the tertiary ; next in the new red 
sandstone ; next in slates ; and lastly, least of all, 
in the primary rocks.* This may have been the 
case without regard to the origination of new 
species, but more probably it was otherwise ; or 
why, for instance, should the polypiferous zoophyta 
be found almost exclusively in the limestones? 
There are, indeed, abundant appearances as if, 
throughout all the changes of the surface, the 
various kinds of organic life invariably pressed in, 
immediately on the specially suitable conditions 
arising, so that no place which could support any 
form of organic being might be left for any length 
of time unoccupied. Nor is it less remarkable 
how various species are withdrawn from the earth, 
when the proper conditions for their particular 
existence are changed. The trilobite, of which 
fifty species existed during the earlier formations, 

* See paper by Professor Edward Forbes, read to the British 
Association, 1839. 


was extirpated before the secondary had com- 
menced, and appeared no more. The ammonite 
does not appear above the chalk. The species, 
and even genera of all the early radiata and mol- 
lusks were exchanged for others long ago. Not 
one species of any creature which flourished before 
the tertiary (Ehrenberg's infusoria excepted) now 
exists ; and of the mammalia which arose during 
that series, many forms are altogether gone, while 
of others we have now only kindred species. Thus 
to find not only frequent additions to the previously 
existing forms, but frequent withdrawals of forms 
which had apparently become inappropriate — a 
constant shifting as well as advance — is a fact cal- 
culated very forcibly to arrest attention. 

A candid consideration of all these circumstances 
can scarcely fail to introduce into our minds a 
somewhat different idea of organic creation from 
what has hitherto been generally entertained. 
That God created animated beings, as well as the 
terraqueous theatre of their being, is a fact so 
powerfully evidenced, and so universally received, 
that I at once take it for granted. But in the par- 
ticulars of this so highly supported idea, we surely 
here see cause for some re-consideration. It may 
now be inquired, — In what way was the creation 


of animated beings effected? The ordinary notion 
may, I think, be not unjustly described as this, — 
that the Almighty author produced the progenitors 
of all existing species by some sort of personal or 
immediate exertion. But how does this notion 
comport with what we have seen of the gradual 
advance of species, from the humblest to the 
highest? How can we suppose an immediate 
exertion of this creative power at one time to pro- 
duce zoophytes, another time to add a few marine 
moUusks, another to bring in one or two con- 
chifers, again to produce crustaceous fishes, again 
perfect fishes, and so on to the end ? This would 
surely be to take a very mean view of the Creative 
Power — to, in short, anthropomorphize it, or re- 
duce it to some such character as that borne by 
the ordinary proceedings of mankind. And yet 
this would be unavoidable ; for that the organic 
creation was thus progressive through a long space 
of time, rests on evidence which nothing can over- 
turn or gainsay. Some other idea must then be 
come to with regard to the mode in which the 
Divine Author proceeded in the organic creation. 
Let us seek in the history of the earth's formation 
for a new suggestion on this point. We have seen 
powerful evidence, that the construction of this 


globe and its associates, and inferentially that of 
all the other globes of space, was the result, not of 
any immediate or personal exertion on the part of 
the Deity, but of natural laws which are expres- 
sions of his will. What is to hinder our supposing 
that the organic creation is also a result of natural 
laws, which are in like manner an expression of 
his will ? More than this, the fact of the cosmical 
arrangements being an effect of natural law, is a 
powerful argument for the organic arrangements 
being so likewise, for how can we suppose that the 
august Being who brought all these countless 
worlds into form by the simple establishment of a 
natural principle flowing from his mind, was to 
interfere personally and specially on every occasion 
when a new shell-fish or reptile was to be ushered 
into existence on one of these worlds ? Surely 
this idea is too ridiculous to be for a moment 

It will be objected that the ordinary concep- 
tions of Christian nations on this subject are 
directly derived from Scripture, or, at least, are in 
conformity with it. If they were clearly and un- 
equivocally supported by Scripture, it may readily 
be allowed that there would be a strong objection 
to the reception of any opposite hypothesis. But 


the fact is, however startling the present announce- 
ment of it may be, that the first chapter of the 
Mosaic record is not only not in harmony with 
the ordinary ideas of mankind respecting cosmical 
and organic creation, but is opposed to them, and 
only in accordance with the views here taken. 
When we carefully peruse it with awakened minds, 
we find that all the procedure is represented pri- 
marily and pre-eminently as flowing from com- 
mands and expressions of will, not from direct acts. 
Let there be light — let there be a firmament — let 
the dry land appear — let the earth bring forth 
grass, the herb, the tree — let the waters bring forth 
the moving creature that hath life — let the earth 
bring forth the living creature after his kind — 
these are the terms in which the principal acts 
are described. The additional expressions, — God 
made the firmament — God made the beast of the 
earth, &c., occur subordinately, and only in a few 
instances ; they do not necessarily convey a dif- 
ferent idea of the mode of creation, and indeed 
only appear as alternative phrases, in the usual 
duplicative manner of Eastern narrative. Keeping 
this in view, the words used in a subsequent place, 
*' God formed man in his own image," cannot 
well be understood as implying any more than 


what was implied before, — namely, that man was 
produced in consequence of an expression of the 
Divine will to that effect. Thus, the scriptural 
objection quickly vanishes, and the prevalent ideas 
about the organic creation appear only as a mis- 
taken inference from the text, formed at a time 
when man's ignorance prevented him from draw- 
ing therefrom a just conclusion. At the same 
time, I freely own that I do not think it right to 
adduce the Mosaic record, either in objection to, 
or support of any natural hypothesis, and this for 
many reasons, but particularly for this, that there 
is not the least appearance of an intention in that 
book to give philosophically exact views of nature. 
To a reasonable mind the Divine attributes must 
appear, not diminished or reduced in any way, by 
supposing a creation by law, but infinitely exalted. 
It is the narrowest of all views of the Deity, and 
characteristic of a humble class of intellects, to sup- 
pose him acting constantly in particular ways for 
particular occasions. It, for one thing, greatly de- 
tracts from his foresight, the most undeniable of all 
the attributes of Omnipotence. It lowers him to- 
wards the level of our own humble intellects. Much 
more worthy of him it surely is, to suppose that all 
things have been commissioned by him from the first. 


though neither is he absent from a particle of the 
current of natural affairs in one sense, seeing that 
the whole system is continually supported by his 
providence. Even in human aifairs, if I may be 
allowed to adopt a familiar illustration, there is a 
constant progress from specific action for particular 
occasions, to arrangements which, once established, 
shall continue to answer for a great multitude of 
occasions. Such plans the enlightened readily 
form for themselves, and conceive as being adopted 
by all who have to attend to a multitude of affairs, 
while the ignorant suppose every act of the 
greatest public functionary to be the result of some 
special consideration and care on his part alone. 
Are we to suppose the Deity adopting plans 
which harmonize only with the modes of procedure 
of the less enlightened of our race ? Those who 
would object to the hypothesis of a creation by 
the intervention of law, do not perhaps consider 
how powerful an argument in favour of the exist- 
ence of God is lost by rejecting this doctrine. 
When all is seen to be the result of law, the idea 
of an Almighty Author becomes irresistible, for the 
creation of a law for an endless series of phenomena 
— an act of intelligence above all else that we can 
conceive — could have no other imaginable source. 


and tells, moreover, as powerfully for a sustaining 
as for an originating power. On this point a 
remark of Dr. Buckland seems applicable : " If the 
properties adopted by the elements at the moment 
of their creation adapted them beforehand to the 
infinity of complicated useful purposes which they 
have already answered, and may have still farther 
to answer, under many dispensations of the mate- 
rial world, such an aboriginal constitution, so far 
from superseding an intelligent agent, would only 
exalt our conceptions of the consummate skill and 
power that could comprehend such an infinity of 
future uses under future systems, in the original 
groundwork of his creation." 

A late writer, in a work embracing a vast 
amount of miscellaneous knowledge, but written in 
a dogmatic style, argues at great length for the 
doctrine of more immediate exertions on the part 
of the Deity in the works of his creation. One of 
the most striking of his illustrations is as follows : — 
" The coral polypi, united by a common animal 
bond, construct a defined form in stone ; many 
kinds construct many forms. An allotted instinct 
may permit each polypus to construct its own cell, 
but there is no superintending one to direct the 
pattern, nor can the workers unite by consultation 


for such an end. There is no recipient for an 
instinct by which the pattern might be constructed. 
It is God alone, therefore, who is the architect ; 
and for this end, consequently, he must dispose of 
every new polypus required to continue the pat- 
tern, in a new and peculiar position, which the 
animal could not have discovered by itself. Yet 
more, millions of these blind workers unite their 
works to form an island, which is also wrought 
out according to a constant general pattern, and of 
a very peculiar nature, though the separate coral 
works are numerously diverse. Still less, then, 
here is an instinct possible. The Great Architect 
himself must execute what he planned, in each 
case equally. He uses these little and senseless 
animals as hands ; but they are hands which him- 
self must direct. He must direct each one every- 
where, and therefore he is ever acting." * This is 
a most notable example of a dangerous kind of 
reasoning. It is now believed that corals have a 
general life and sensation throughout the whole 
mass, residing in the nervous tissue which enve- 
lops them ; consequently, there is nothing more 
wonderful in their determinate general forms than 
in those of other animals. « 

* Macculloch on the Attributes of the Deity, iiL 569. 


It may here be remarked that there is in our 
doctrine that harmony in all the associated pheno- 
mena which generally marks great truths. First, 
it agrees, as we have seen, with the idea of planet- 
creation by natural law. Secondly, upon this sup- 
position, all that geology tells us of the succession 
of species appears natural and intelligible. Or- 
ganic life presses in, as has been remarked, wherever 
there was room and encouragement for it, the 
forms being always such as suited the circum- 
stances, and in a certain relation to them, as, for 
example, where the limestone-forming seas pro- 
duced an abundance of corals, crinoidea, and shell- 
fish. Admitting for a moment a re-origination of 
species after a cataclysm, as has been surmised by 
some geologists, though the hypothesis is always 
becoming less and less tenable, it harmonizes with 
nothing so well as the idea of a creation by law. 
The more solitary commencements of species, 
which would have been the most inconceivably 
paltry exercise for an immediately creative power, 
are sufficiently worthy of one operating by laws. 

It is also to be observed, that the thing to be 
accounted for is not merely the origination of 
organic being upon this little planet, third of a 
series which is but one of hundreds of thousands 


of series, the whole of which again form but one 
portion of an apparently infinite globe-peopled 
space, where all seems analogous. We have to 
suppose, that every one of these numberless globes 
is either a theatre of organic being, or in the way 
of becoming so. This is a conclusion which every 
addition to our knowledge makes only the more 
irresistible. Is it conceivable, as a fitting mode of 
exercise for creative intelhgence, that it should 
be constantly moving fi-om one sphere to another, 
to form and plant the various species which may 
be required in each situation at particular times ? 
Is such an idea accordant with our general con- 
ception of the dignity, not to speak of the power, 
of the Great Author? Yet such is the notion 
which we must form, if we adhere to the doctrine 
of special exercise. Let us see, on the other hand, 
how the doctrine of a creation by law agrees with 
this expanded view of the organic world. 

Unprepared as most men may be for such an 
announcement, there can be no doubt that we are 
able, in this limited sphere, to form some satisfac- 
tory conclusions as to the plants and animals of 
those other spheres which move at such immense 
distances from us. Suppose that the first persons 
of an early nation who made a ship and ventured 


to sea in it, observed, as they sailed along, a set of 
objects which they had never before seen — namely, 
a fleet of other ships — would they not have been 
justified in supposing that those ships were occu- 
pied, like their own, by human beings possessing 
hands to row and steer, eyes to watch the signs of 
the weather, intelligence to guide them from one 
place to another — in short, beings in all respects 
like themselves, or only shewing such differences 
as they knew to be producible by difference of 
climate and habits of life. Precisely in this manner 
we can speculate on the inhabitants of remote 
spheres. We see that matter has originally been 
diffused in one mass, of which the spheres are 
portions. Consequently, inorganic matter must 
be presumed to be everywhere the same, although 
probably with differences in the proportions of 
ingredients in different globes, and also some 
difference of conditions^ Out of a certain number 
of the elements of inorganic matter are composed 
organic bodies, both vegetable and animal ; such 
must be the rule in Jupiter and in Sirius, as it is 
here. We, therefore, are all but certain that 
herbaceous and ligneous fibre, that flesh and blood, 
are the constituents of, the organic beings of all 
those spheres which are as yet seats of life. Gra- 


vitation we see to be an all-pen^ading principle : 
therefore there must be a relation between the 
spheres and their respective organic occupants, by 
virtue of which they are fixed, as far as necessary, 
on the surface. Such a relation, of course, in- 
volves details as to the density and elasticity of 
structure, as well as size, of the organic tenants, in 
proportion to the gravity of the respective planets — 
peculiarities, however, which may quite well con- 
sist with the idea of a universality of general 
types, to which we are about to come. Electricity 
we also see to be universal ; if, therefore, it be a 
principle concerned in life and in mental action, 
as science strongly suggests, life and mental action 
must everywhere be of one general character. We 
come to comparatively a matter of detail, when 
we advert to heat and light ; yet it is important to 
consider that these are universal agents, and that, 
as they bear marked relations to organic life and 
structure on earth, they may be presumed to do 
so in other spheres also. The considerations as to 
light are particularly interesting, for, on our globe, 
the structure of one important organ, almost uni- 
versally distributed in the animal kingdom, is in 
direct and precise relation to it. Where there is 
light there will be eyes, and these, in other spheres. 


will be the same in all respects as the eyes of 
tellurian animals, with only such differences as 
may be necessary to accord with minor peculiarities 
of condition and of situation. It is but a small 
stretch of the argument to suppose that, one con- 
spicuous organ of a large portion of our animal 
kingdom being thus universal, a parity in all the 
other organs — species for species, class for class, 
kingdom for kingdom — is highly likely, and that 
thus the inhabitants of all the other globes of space 
bear not only a general, but a particular resem- 
blance to those of our own. 

Assuming that organic beings are thus spread 
over all space, the idea of their having all come 
into existence by the operation of laws everywhere 
applicable, is only conformable to that principle, 
acknowledged to be so generally visible in the affairs 
of Providence, to have all done by the employ- 
ment of the smallest possible amount of means. 
Thus, as one set of laws produced all orbs and their 
motions and geognostic arrangements, so one set 
of laws overspread them all with life. The whole 
productive or creative arrangements are therefore 
in perfect unity. 





The general likelihood of an organic creation 
by law having been shewn, we are next to inquire 
if science has any facts tending to bring the as- 
sumption more nearly home to nature. Such facts 
there certainly are ; but it cannot be surprising 
that they are comparatively few and scattered, 
when we consider that the inquiry is into one of 
nature's profoundest mysteries, and one which has 
hitherto engaged no direct attention in almost any 

Crystallization is confessedly a phenomenon of 
inorganic matter ; yet the simplest rustic observer 
is struck by the resemblance which the examples 
of it left upon a window by frost bear to vegetable 
forms. In some crystallizations the mimicry is 


beautiful and complete ; for example, in the well- 
known one called the Arbor Diance. An amalgam 
of four parts of silver and two of mercury being 
dissolved in nitric acid, and water equal to thirty 
weights of the metals being added, a small piece 
of soft amalgam of silver suspended in the solution, 
quickly gathers to itself the particles of the silver 
of the amalgam, which form upon it a crystalliza- 
tion precisely resembling a shrub. The experiment 
may be varied in a way which serves better to 
detect the influence of electricity in such opera- 
tions, as noted below.* Vegetable figures are also 
presented in some of the most ordinary appear- 

* " A glass tube is to be bent into a syphon, and placed with 
the curve downwards, and in the bend is to be placed a small 
portion of mercury, not sufficient to close the connexion between 
the two legs ; a solution of nitrate of silver is then to be introduced 
until it rises in both limbs of the tube. The precipitation of 
the mercury, in the form of an Arbor Dianse, will then take place, 
slowly, only when the syphon is placed in a plane perpendicular 
to the magnetic meridian ; but if it be placed in a plane coincid- 
ing with the magnetic meridian, the action is rapid, and the crys- 
tallization particularly beautiful, taking place principally in that 
branch of the syphon towards the north. If the syphon be placed 
in a plane perpendicular to the magnetic meridian, and a strong 
magnet brought near it, the precipitation will commence in a 
short time, and be most copious in the branch of the syphon 
nearest to the south pole of the magnet." 


ances of the electric fluid. In the marks caused 
by positive electricity, or which it leaves in its 
passage, we see the ramifications of a tree, as well 
as of its individual leaves ; those of the negative, 
recal the bulbous or the spreading root, according 
as they are clumped or divergent. These pheno- 
mena seem to say that the electric energies have 
had something to do in determining the forms of 
plants. That they are intimately connected with 
vegetable life is indubitable, for germination will 
not proceed in water charged with negative elec- 
tricity, while water charged positively greatly 
favours it ; and a garden sensibly increases in 
luxuriance, when a number of conducting rods 
are made to terminate in branches over its beds. 
With regard to the resemblance of the ramifica- 
tions of the branches and leaves of plants to the 
traces of the positive electricity, and that of the 
roots to the negative, it is a circumstance calling 
for especial remark, that the atmosphere, particu- 
larly its lower strata, is generally charged posi- 
tively, while the earth is always charged negatively. 
The correspondence here is curious. A plant 
thus appears as a thing formed on the basis of a 
natural electrical operation — the brush realized. 


We can thus suppose the various forms of plants 
as, immediately, the result of a law in electricity 
variously affecting them according to their organic 
character, or respective germinal constituents. In 
the poplar, the brush is unusually vertical, and 
little divergent ; the reverse in the beech : in the 
palm, a pencil has proceeded straight up for a cer- 
tain distance, radiates there, and turns outwards 
and downwards ; and so on. We can here see at 
least traces of secondary means by which the 
Almighty Deviser might establish all the vege- 
table forms with which the earth is overspread. 

Vegetable and animal bodies are mainly com- 
posed of the same four simple substances or ele- 
ments — carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. 
The first combinations of these in animals are into 
what are called proximate principles, as albumen, 
fibrin, urea, alantoin, &c., out of which the struc- 
ture of the animal body is composed. Now the 
chemist, by the association of two parts oxygen, 
four hydrogen, two carbon, and two nitrogen, can 
make urea. Alantoin has also been produced arti- 
ficially. Two of the proximate principles being 
realizable by human care, the possibility of realizing 
or forming all is established. Thus the chemist 
may be said to have it in his power to realize the 



first step in organization.* Indeed, it is fully ac- 
knowledged by Dr. Daubeny, that in the combi- 
nations forming the proximate principles there is 
no chemical peculiarity. " It is now certain," he 
says, " that the same simple laws of composition 
pervade the whole creation ; and that, if the or- 
ganic chemist only takes the requisite precautions 
to avoid resolving into their ultimate elements the 
proximate principles upon which he operates, the 
results of his analysis will shew that they are com- 
bined precisely according to the same plan as the 
elements of mineral bodies are known to be."t A 
particular fact is here worthy of attention. " The 
conversion of fecula into sugar, as one of the ordi- 
nary processes of vegetable economy, is effected 
by the production of a secretion termed diastose, 
which occasions both the rupture of the starch 
vesicles, and the change of their contained gum 
into sugar. This diastose may be separately ob- 
tained by the chemist, and it acts as effectually in 
his laboratory as in the vegetable organization. 

* Fatty matter has also been formed in the laboratory. The 
process consisted in passing a mixture of carbonic acid, pure 
hydrogen, and carburetted hydrogen, in the proportion of one 
measure of the first, twenty of the second, and ten of the third, 
through a red-hot tube. 

f Supplement to the Atomic Theory. 



He can also imitate its effects by other chemical 
agents."* The writer quoted below adds, " No 
reasonable ground has yet been adduced for sup- 
posing that, if we had the power of bringing toge- 
ther the elements of any organic compound, in 
their requisite states and proportions, the result 
would be any other than that which is found in 
the living body." 

It is much to know the elements out of which 
organic bodies are composed. It is something 
more to know their first combinations, and that 
these are simply chemical. How these combina- 
tions are associated in the structure of hving bodies 
is the next inquiry, but it is one to which as yet no 
satisfactory answer can be given. The investiga- 
tion of the minutiae of organic structure by the 
microscope is of such recent origin, that its results 
cannot be expected to be very clear. Some facts, 
however, are worthy of attention with regard to 
the present inquiry. It is ascertained that the 
basis of all vegetable and animal substances con- 
sists of nucleated cells ; that is, cells having gra- 
nules within them. Nutriment is converted into 
these before being assimilated by the system. 
The tissues are formed from them. The ovum 
* Carpenter on Life ; Todd's Cyclopsedia of Physiology. 


destined to become a new creature, is originally 
only a cell with a contained granule. We see it 
acting this reproductive part in the simplest man- 
ner in the cryptogamic plants. " The parent cell, 
arrived at maturity by the exercise of its organic 
functions, bursts, and liberates its contained gra- 
nules. These, at once thrown upon their own 
resources, and entirely dependent for their nutri- 
tion on the surrounding elements, develop them- 
selves into new cells, which repeat the life of their 
original. Amongst the higher tribes of the crypto- 
gamia, the reproductive cell does not burst, but 
the first cells of the new structure are developed 
within it, and these gradually extend, by a similar 
process of multiplication, into that primary leaf- 
like expansion which is the first formed structure 
in all plants."* Here the little cell becomes directly 
a plant, the full formed living heing. It is also 
worthy of remark that, in the sponges, (an animal 
form,) a gemmule detached from the body of the 
parent, and trusting for sustentation only to the 
fluid into which it has been cast, becomes, without 
further process, the new creature. Further, it has 
been recently discovered by means of the micro- 

* Carpenter's Report on the results obtained by the Micro- 
scope in the Study of Anatomy and Physiology, 1843. 



scope, that there is, as far as can be judged, a per- 
fect resemblance between the ovum of the mammal 
tribes, during that earlj stage when it is passing 
through the oviduct, and the young of the infusory 
animalcules. One of the most remarkable of 
these, the volvox globator, has exactly the form of 
the germ which, after passing through a long 
foetal progress, becomes a complete mammifer, an 
animal of the highest class. It has even been 
found that both are alike provided with those cilia, 
which, producing a revolving motion, or its ap- 
pearance, is partly the cause of the name given to 
this animalcule. These resemblances are the more 
entitled to notice, that they were made by various 
observers, distant from each other at the time.* 
It has likewise been noted that the globules of the 
blood are reproduced by the expansion of con- 
tained granules ; they are, in short, distinct or- 
ganisms multiplied by the same Jissiparous genera- 
tion. So that all animated nature may be said to 
be based on this mode of origin ; the fundamental 
form of organic being is a globule, having a new 
globule forming within itself, by which it is in time 

* See Dr. Martin Barry on Fissiparous Generation ; Jame- 
son's Journal, Oct. 1843. Appearances precisely similar have 
been detected in the germs of the Crustacea. 


discharged, and which is again followed by another 
and another, in endless succession. It is of course 
obvious that, if these globules could be produced 
by any process from inorganic elements, we should 
be entitled to say that the fact of a transit from 
the inorganic into the organic had been witnessed 
in that instance ; the possibility of the commence- 
ment of animated creation by the ordinary laws of 
nature might be considered as established. Now 
it was given out some years ago by a French phy- 
siologist, that globules could be produced in albumen 
by electricity. If, therefore, these globules be 
identical with the cells which are now held to be 
reproductive, it might be said that the production 
of albumen by artificial means is the only step in 
the process wanting. This has not yet been 
effected ; but it is known to be only a chemical 
process, the mode of which may be any day disco- 
vered in the laboratory, and two compounds per- 
fectly co-ordinate, urea and alantoin, have actually 
been produced. 

In such an investigation as the present, it is not 
unworthy of notice that the production of shell is 
a natural operation which can be precisely imitated 
artificially. Such an incrustation takes place on 
both the outside and inside of the wheel in a 


bleaching establishment, in which cotton cloth is 
rinsed free of the lime employed in its purification. 
From the dressing employed by the weaver, the 
cloth obtains the animal matter, gelatin ; this and 
the lime form the constituents of the incrustation, 
exactly as in natural shell. In the wheel employed 
at Catrine, in Ayrshire, where the phenomenon 
was first observed by the eye of science, it had 
required ten years to produce a coating the tenth 
of an inch in thickness. This incrustation has all 
the characters of shell, displaying a highly polished 
surface, beautifully iridescent, and, when broken, 
a foliated texture. The examination of it has 
even thrown some light on the character and mode 
of formation of natural shell. *' The plates into 
which the substance is divisible have been formed 
in succession, and certain intervals of time have 
elapsed between their formation ; in general, every 
two contiguous laminae are separated by a thin 
iridescent film, varying from the three to the fifty 
millionth part of an inch in thickness, and pro- 
ducing all the various colours of thin plates which 
correspond to intermediate thicknesses : between 
some of the laminae no such film exists, probably 
in consequence of the interval of time between 
their formation being too short ; and between 


Others the film has been formed of unequal thick- 
ness. There can be no doubt that these iridescent 
films are formed when the dash-wheel is at rest 
during the night, and that when no film exists 
between two laminas, an interval too short for its 
formation, (arising, perhaps, from the stopping of 
the work during the day,) has elapsed during the 
drying or induration of one lamina and the depo- 
sition of another."* From this it has been 
deduced, by a patient investigation, that those 
colours of mother-of-pearl, which are incommuni- 
cable to wax, arise from iridescent films deposited 
between the laminae of its structure, and it is 
hence inferred that the animal^ like the wheel, rests 
periodically from its labours in forming the natural 

These, it will be owned, are curious and not 
irrelevant facts ; but it will be asked what actual 
experience says respecting the origination of life. 
Are there, it will be said, any authentic instances 
of either plants or animals, of however humble and 
simple a kind, having come into existence other- 
wise than in the ordinary way of generation, since 
the time of which geology forms the record ? It 

* Mr. Leonard Horner and Sir David Brewster, on a substance 
resembling shell. — Philosophical Transactions, 1836. 


may be answered, that the negative of this question 
could not be by any means formidable to the doc- 
trine of law-creation, seeing that the conditions 
necessary for the operation of the supposed life- 
creating laws may not have existed within record 
to any great extent. On the other hand, as we 
see the physical laws of early times still acting 
with more or less force, it might not be unreason- 
able to expect that we should still see some rem- 
nants, or partial and occasional workings of the 
life-creating energy amidst a system of things 
generally stable and at rest. Are there, then, any 
such remnants to be traced in our own day, or 
during man's existence upon earth ? If there be, 
it clearly would form a strong evidence in favour 
of the doctrine, as what now takes place upon a 
confined scale and in a comparatively casual 
manner may have formerly taken place on a great 
scale, and as the proper and eternity-destined 
means of supplying a vacant globe with suitable 
tenants. It will at the same time be observed that, 
the earth being now supplied with both kinds of 
tenants in great abundance, we only could expect 
to find the life-originating power at work in some 
very special and extraordinary circumstances, and 


probably only in the inferior and obscurer depart- 
ments of the veo;etable and animal kino-doms. 

Perhaps, if the question were asked often men 
of approved reputation in science, nine out of the 
number would answer in the negative. This is 
because, in a great number of instances where the 
superficial observers of former times assumed a 
non-generative origin for life, (as in the celebrated 
case in Virgil's fourth Georgic,) either the direct 
contrary has been ascertained, or exhaustive experi- 
ments have left no alternative from the conclusion 
that ordinary generation did take place, albeit in a 
manner which escapes observation. Finding that 
an erroneous assumption has been formed in many 
cases, modern inquirers have not hesitated to 
assume that there can be no case in which genera- 
tion is not concerned; an assumption not only 
unwarranted by, but directly opposed to, the 
principles of philosophical investigation. Yet this 
is truly the point at which the question now rests 
in the scientific world. 

I have no wish here to enter largely into a subject 

so wide and so full of difficulties ; but I may remark, 

that the explanations usually suggested where life 

takes its rise without apparent generative means, 



always appear to me to partake much of the fallacy of 
the petitio principii. When, for instance, lime is laid 
down upon a piece of waste moss ground, and a 
crop of white clover for which no seeds were sown 
is the consequence, the explanation that the seeds 
have been dormant there for an unknown time, and 
were stimulated into germination when the lime 
produced the appropriate circumstances, appears 
extremely unsatisfactory, especially when we know 
that (as in an authentic case under my notice) 
the spot is many miles from where clover is culti- 
vated, and that there is nothing for six feet below 
but pure peat moss, clover seeds being, moreover, 
known to be too heavy to be transported, as many 
other seeds are, by the winds. Mushrooms, we 
know, can be propagated by their seed ; but an- 
other mode of raising them, well known to the 
gardener, is to mix cow and horse dung together, 
and thus form a bed in which they are expected 
to grow without any seed being planted. It is 
assumed that the seeds are carried by the atmo- 
sphere, unperceived by us, and, finding here an 
appropriate field for germination, germinate ac- 
cordingly ; but this is only assumption, and though 
designed to be on the side of a severe philosophy, 
in reality makes a pretty large demand on credu- 


lity. There are several persons eminent in science 
who profess at least to find great difficulties in 
accepting the doctrine of invariable generation. 
One of these, in the work noted below,* has stated 
several considerations arising from analogical rea- 
soning, which appear to him to throw the balance 
of evidence in favour of the aboriginal production 
of infusoria,! the vegetation called mould, and the 
like. One seems to be of great force; namely, 
that the animalcules, which are supposed (alto- 
gether hypothetically) to be produced by ova, are 
afterwards found increasing their numbers, not by 
that mode at all, but by division of their bodies. If 
it be the nature of these creatures to propagate in this 
splitting or fissiparous manner, how could they be 
communicated to a vegetable infusion ? Another fact 
of very high importance is presented in the fol- 
lowing terms : — '^ The nature of the animalcule, or 
vegetable production, bears a constant relation to the 
state of the infusion, so that, in similar circum- 
stances, the same are always produced without 
this being influenced by the atmosphere. There 

* Dr. Allen Thomson, in the article Generation, in Todd's 
Cyclopaedia of Anatomy and Physiology. 

t The term aboriginal is here suggested, as more correct than 
spontaneous, the one hitherto generally used. 


seems to be a certain progressive advance in the 
productive powers of the infusion, for at the first the 
animalcules are only of the smaller kinds, or mo- 
nades, and afterwards they become gradually larger 
and more complicated in their structure ; after a time, 
the production ceases, although the materials are by 
no means exhausted. When the quantity of water 
is very small, and the organic matter abundant, 
the production is usually of a vegetable nature ; 
when there is much water, animalcules are more 
frequently produced." It has been shewn by the 
opponents of this theory, that when a vegetable 
infusion is debarred from the contact of the atmo- 
sphere, by being closely sealed up or covered with 
a layer of oil, no animalcules are produced ; but it 
has been said, on the other hand, that the exclusion 
of the air may prevent some simple condition 
necessary for the aboriginal development of life — 
and nothing is more likely. Perhaps the prevail- 
ing doctrine is in nothing placed in greater diffi- 
culties than it is with regard to the entozoa, or 
creatures which live within the bodies of others. 
These creatures do, and apparently can, live no- 
where else than in the interior of other living 
bodies, where they generally take up 'their abode 
in the viscera, but also sometimes in the chambers 


of the eye, the interior of the brain, the serous 
sacs, and other places having no communication 
from without. Some are viviparous, others ovipa- 
rous. Of the latter it cannot reasonably be sup- 
posed that the ova ever pass through the medium 
of the air, or through the blood-vessels, for they 
are too heavy for the one transit, and too large for 
the other. Of the former, it cannot be conceived 
how they pass into young animals — certainly not 
by communication from the parent, for it has often 
been found that entozoa do not appear in certain 
generations, and some of peculiar and noted cha- 
racter have only appeared at rare intervals, and in 
very extraordinary circumstances. A candid view 
of the less popular doctrine, as to the origin of this 
humble form of life, is taken by a distinguished 
living naturalist. "To explain the beginning ot 
these worms within the human body, on the com- 
mon doctrine that all created beings proceed from 
their likes, or a primordial egg, is so difficult, that 
the moderns have been driven to speculate, as our 
fathers did, on their spontaneous birth ; but they 
have received the hypothesis with some modifi- 
cation. Thus it is not from putrefaction or fer- 
mentation that the entozoa are born, for both of 
these processes are rather fatal to their existence. 


but from the aggregation and fit apposition of 
matter which is already organized, or has been 
thrown from organized surfaces. * * Their 
origin in this manner is not more wonderful or 
more inexplicable than that of many of the inferior 
animals from sections of themselves. * * Par- 
ticles of matter fitted by digestion, and their trans- 
mission through a living body, for immediate 
assimilation with it, or flakes of lymph detached 
from surfaces already organized, seem neither to 
exceed nor fall below that simplicity of structure 
which favours this wonderful development; and 
the supposition that, like morsels of a planaria, 
they may also, when retained in contact with 
living parts, and in other favourable circumstances, 
continue to live and be gradually changed into 
creatures of analogous conformation, is surely not 
so absurd as to be brought into comparison with 
the Metamorphoses of Ovid. * * We think 
the hypothesis is also supported in some degree 
by the fact, that the origin of the entozoa is 
favoured by all causes which tend to disturb the 
equality between the secerning and absorbent 
systems."* Here particles of organized matter are 
suggested as the germinal origin of distinct and 
* Article " Zoophytes," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 7tli edition. 


fully organized animals, many of which have a 
highly developed reproductive system. How near 
such particles must be to the inorganic form of 
matter may be judged from what has been said 
within the last few pages. If, then, this view of 
the production of entozoa be received, it must be 
held as in no small degree favourable to the general 
doctrine of an organic creation by law. 

There is another series of facts, akin to the 
above, and which deserve not less attention. The 
pig, in its domestic state, is subject to the attacks 
of a hydatid, from which the wild animal is free ; 
hence the disease called measles in pork. The 
domestication of the pig is of course an event 
subsequent to the origin of man; indeed, com- 
paratively speaking, a recent event. Whence, 
then, the first progenitor of this hydatid ? So also 
there is a tinea which attacks dressed wool, but 
never touches it in its unw^ashed state. A par- 
ticular insect disdains aU food but chocolate, and 
the larva of the oinopota cellaris lives nowhere but 
in wine and beer, all of these being articles manu- 
factured by man. There is likewise a creature 
called the pimelodes cyclopum^ which is only found 
in subterranean cavities connected with certain 
specimens of the volcanic formation in South 


America, dating from a time posterior to the 
arrangements of the earth for our species. Whence 
the first pymelodes cyclopum? Will it, to a 
geologist, appear irrational to suppose that, just as 
the pterodactjle was added in the era of the new 
red sandstone, when the earth had become suited 
for such a creature, so may these creatures have 
been added when media suitable for their exist- 
ence arose, and that such phenomena may take 
place any day, the only cause for their taking 
place seldom being the rarity of the rise of new 
physical conditions on a globe which seems to 
have already undergone the principal part of its 
destined mutations ? 

Between such isolated facts and the greater 
changes which attended various geological eras, it 
is not easy to see any difference, besides simply 
that of the scale on which the respective pheno- 
mena took place, as the throwing off of one copy 
from an engraved plate is exactly the same process 
as that by which a thousand are thrown off. 
Nothing is more easy to conceive than that to 
Creative Providence, the numbers of such pheno- 
mena, the time when, and the circumstances under 
which they take place, are indifferent matters. 
The Eternal One has arranged for everything 



beforehand, and trusted all to the operation of the 
laws of his appointment, himself being ever present 
in all things. We can even conceive that man, 
in his many doings upon the surface of the earth, 
may occasionally, without his being aware of it, 
or otherwise, act as an instrument in preparing 
the association of conditions under which the 
creative laws work ; and perhaps some instances 
of his having acted as such an instrument have 
actually occurred in our own time. 

I allude, of course, to the experiments conducted 
a few years ago by Mr. Crosse, which seemed to 
result in the production of a heretofore unknown 
species of insect in considerable numbers. Various 
causes have prevented these experiments and their 
results from receiving candid treatment, but they 
may perhaps be yet found to have opened up a 
new and most interesting chapter of nature's 
mysteries. Mr. Crosse was pursuing some experi- 
ments in crystallization, causing a powerful voltaic 
battery to operate upon a saturated solution of 
silicate of potash, when the insects unexpectedly 
made their appearance. He afterwards tried 
nitrate of copper, which is a deadly poison, and 
from that fluid also did live insects emerge. Dis- 
couraged by the reception of his experiments. 


Mr. Crosse soon discontinued them; but they 
were some years after pursued by Mr. Weekes, of 
Sandwich, with precisely the same results. This 
gentleman, besides trying the first of the above 
substances, employed ferro-cyanet of potash, on 
account of its containing a larger proportion of 
carbon, the principal element of organic bodies ; 
and from this substance the insects were produced 
in increased numbers. A few weeks sufficed for 
this experiment, with the powerful battery of 
Mr. Crosse ; but the first attempts of Mr. Weekes 
required about eleven months, a ground of pre- 
sumption in itself that the electricity was chiefly 
concerned in the phenomenon. The changes 
undergone by the fluid operated upon, were in 
both cases remarkable, and nearly alike. In 
Mr. Weekes' apparatus, the silicate of potash 
became first turbid, then of a milky appearance ; 
round the negative wire of the battery, dipped 
into the fluid, there gathered a quantity of gela- 
tinous mattery a part of the process of considerable 
importance, considering that gelatin is one of the 
proximate principles, or first compounds, of which 
animal bodies are formed. From this matter Mr. 
Weekes observed one of the insects in the very act 
of emerging, immediately after which, it ascended 


to the surface of the fluid, and sought conceal- 
ment in an obscure corner of the apparatus. The 
insects produced by both experimentaUsts seem 
to have been the same, a species of acarus, minute 
and semi-transparent, and furnished with long 
bristles, which can only be seen by the aid of the 
microscope. It is worthy of remark, that some of 
these insects, soon after their existence had com- 
menced, were found to be likely to extend their 
species. They were sometimes observed to go 
back to the fluid to feed, and occasionally they 
devoured each other.* 

The reception of novelties in science must ever 
be regulated very much by the amount of kindred 
or relative phenomena which the public mind 
already possesses and acknowledges, to which the 
new can be assimilated. A novelty, however 
true, if there be no received truths with which it 
can be shewn in harmonious relation, has little 
chance of a favourable hearing. In fact, as has 
been often observed, there is a measure of incre- 
dulity from our ignorance as well as from our 
knowledge, and if the most distinguished philo- 
sopher three hundred years ago had ventured to 
develop any striking new fact which only could 
* See a pamphlet circulated by Mr. Weekes, in 1842. 


harmonize with the as yet unknown Copernican 
solar system, we cannot doubt that it would have 
been universally scoffed at in the scientific world, 
such as it then was, or at the best interpreted in a 
thousand wrong ways in conformity with ideas 
already familiar. The experiments above de- 
scribed, finding a public mind which had never 
discovered a fact or conceived an idea at all 
analogous, were of course ungraciously received. 
It was held to be impious, even to surmise that 
animals could have been formed through any 
instrumentality of an apparatus devised by hu- 
man skill. The more likely account of the phe- 
nomena was said to be, that the insects were only 
developed from ova, resting either in the fluid, 
or in the wooden frame on which the expe- 
riments took place. On these objections the fol- 
lowing remarks may be made. The supposition 
of impiety arises from an entire misconception of 
what is implied by an aboriginal creation of insects. 
The experimentalist could never be considered as 
the author of the existence of these creatures, ex- 
cept by the most unreasoning ignorance. The 
utmost that can be claimed for, or imputed to him 
is that he arranged the natural conditions under 
which the true creative energy — that of the Divine 


Author of all things — was pleased to work in that 
instance. On the hypothesis here brought for- 
ward, the acarus Crossii was a type of being or- 
dained from the beginning, and destined to be 
realized under certain physical conditions. When 
a human hand brought these conditions into the 
proper arrangement, it did an act akin to hundreds 
of familiar ones which we execute every day, and 
which are followed by natural results ; but it did 
nothing more. The production of the insect, if it 
did take place as assumed, was as clearly an act of 
the Almighty himself, as if he had fashioned it 
with hands. For the presumption that an act of 
aboriginal creation did take place, there is this to 
be said, that, in Mr. Weekes's experiment, every 
care that ingenuity could devise was taken to ex- 
clude the possibility of a development of the insects 
from ova. The wood of the frame was baked in a 
powerful heat; a bell-shaped glass covered the 
apparatus, and from this the atmosphere was ex- 
cluded by the constantly rising fumes from the 
liquid, for the emission of w^hich there was an 
aperture so arranged at the top of the glass, that 
only these fumes could pass. The water was dis- 
tilled, and the substance of the silicate had been 
subjected to white heat. Thus every source of 


fallacy seemed to be shut up. In such circumstances, 
a candid mind, which sees nothing either impious 
or unphilosophical in the idea of a new creation, 
will be disposed to think that there is less difficulty 
in believing in such a creation having actually 
taken place, than in believing that, in two instances, 
separated in place and time, exactly the same in- 
sects should have chanced to arise from concealed 
ova, and these a species heretofore unknown. 





It has been already intimated, as a general fact, 
that there is an obvious gradation amongst the 
families of both the vegetable and animal king- 
doms, from the simple lichen and animalcule re- 
spectively up to the highest order of dicotyledonous 
trees and the mammalia. Confining our attention, 
in the meantime, to the animal kingdom — it does 
not appear that this gradation passes along one 
line, on which every form of animal life can be, as 
it were, strung ; there may be branching or double 
lines at some places ; or the whole may be in a 
circle composed of minor circles, as has been re- 
cently suggested. But still it is incontestable that 
there are general appearances of a scale beginning 


with the simple and advancing to the complicated. 
The animal kingdom was divided by Cuvier into 
four sub-kingdoms, or divisions, and these exhibit 
an unequivocal gradation in the order in which 
they are here enumerated : — Radiata, (polypes, 
&c. ;) mollusca, (pulpy animals ;) articulata, 
(jointed animals ;) vertebrata, (animals with in- 
ternal skeleton.) The gradation can, in like 
manner, be clearly traced in the classes into which 
the sub-kingdoms are subdivided, as, for instance, 
when we take those of the vertebrata in this order 
— reptiles, fishes, birds, mammals. 

While the external forms of all these various 
animals are so different, it is very remarkable that 
the whole are, after all, variations of a fundamental 
plan, which can be traced as a basis throughout 
the whole, the variations being merely modifi- 
cations of that plan to suit the particular conditions 
in which each particular animal has been designed 
to live. Starting from the primeval germ, which, 
as we have seen, is the representative of a par- 
ticular order of full-grown animals, we find all 
others to be merely advances from that type, with 
the extension of endowments and modification of 
forms which are required in each particular case ; 
each form, also, retaining a strong affinity to that 


which precedes it, and tending to impress its own 
features on that which succeeds. This unity of 
structure, as it is called, becomes the more remark- 
able, when we observe that the organs, while pre- 
serving a resemblance, are often put to different 
uses. For example : the ribs become, in the serpent, 
organs of locomotion, and the snout is extended, 
in the elephant, into a prehensile instrument. 

It is equally remarkable that analogous purposes 
are served in different animals by organs essentially 
different. Thus, the mammalia breathe by lungs ; 
the fishes, by gills. These are not modifications 
of one organ, but distinct organs. In mammifers, 
the gills exist and act at an early stage of the 
foetal state, but afterwards go back and appear no 
more ; while the lungs are developed. In fishes, 
again, the gills only are fully developed ; while 
the lung structure either makes no advance at all, 
or only appears in the rudimentary form of an air- 
bladder. So, also, the baleen of the whale and 
the teeth of the land mammalia are different organs. 
The whale, in embryo, shews the rudiments of 
teeth ; but these, not being wanted, are not deve- 
loped, and the baleen is brought forward instead. 
The land animals, we may also be sure, have the 
rudiments of baleen in their organization. In 


many instances, a particular structure is found 
advanced to a certain point in a particular set of 
animals, (for instance, feet in the serpent tribe,) 
although it is not there required in any degree ; 
but the peculiarity, being carried a little farther 
forward, is perhaps useful in the next set of animals 
in the scale. Such are called rudimentary organs. 
With this class of phenomena are to be ranked the 
useless mammae of the male human being, and the 
unrequired process of bone in the male opossum, 
which is needed in the female for supporting her 
pouch. Such curious features are most conspi- 
cuous in animals which form links between various 

As formerly stated, the marsupials, standing at 
the bottom of the mammalia, shew their affinity to 
the oviparous vertebrata, by the rudiments of two 
canals passing from near the anus to the external 
surfaces of the viscera, which are fully developed 
in fishes, being required by them for the respi- 
ration of aerated waters, but which are not needed 
by the atmosphere-breathing marsupials. We have 
also the peculiar form of the sternum and rib-bones 
of the lizards represented in the mammalia in certain 
white cartilaginous lines traceable among their 
abdominal muscles. The struphionidae (birds of 


the ostrich type) form a link between birds and 
mammalia, and in them we find the wings imper- 
fectly or not at all developed, a diaphragm and 
urinary sac, (organs wanting in other birds,) and 
feathers approaching the nature of hair. Again, 
the ornithorynchus belongs to a class at the bottom 
of the mammalia, and approximating to birds, and 
in it behold the bill and web-feet of that order ! 

For further illustration, it is obvious that, various 
as may be the lengths of the upper part of the 
vertebral column in the mammalia, it always con- 
sists of the same parts. The giraffe has in its 
tall neck the same number of bones with the pig, 
which scarcely appears to have a neck at all.* 
Man, again, has no tail ; but the notion of a much- 
ridiculed philosopher of the last century is not 
altogether, as it happens, without foundation, for 
the bones of a caudal extremity exist in an unde- 
veloped state in the os coccygis of the human sub- 
ject. The limbs of all the vertebrate animals are, 
in like manner, on one plan, however various they 
may appear. In the hind-leg of a horse, for ex- 
ample, the angle called the hock is the same part 
which in us forms the heel ; and the horse, and all 

* Daubenton established the rule, that all the viviparous qua- 
drupeds have seven vertebrae in the neck. 



Other quadrupeds, with almost the sohtary ex- 
ception of the bear, walk, in reality, upon what 
answers to the toes of a human being. In this 
and many other quadrupeds the fore part of the 
extremities is shrunk up in a hoof, as the tail of 
the human being is shrunk up in the bony mass 
at the bottom of the back. The bat, on the 
other hand, has these parts largely developed. The 
membrane, commonly called its wing, is framed 
chiefly upon bones answering precisely to those of 
the human hand ; its extinct congener, the ptero- 
dactyle, had the same membrane extended upon 
the fore-finger only, which in that animal was 
prolonged to an extraordinary extent. In the 
paddles of the whale and other animals of its order, 
we see the same bones as in the more highly deve- 
loped extremities of the land mammifers ; and 
even the serpent tribes, which present no external 
appearance of such extremities, possess them in 
reality, but in an undeveloped or rudimental 

The same law of development presides over 
the vegetable kingdom. Amongst phanerogamous 
plants, a certain number of organs appear to be 
always present, either in a developed or rudi- 
mentary state ; and those which are rudimentary 


can be developed by cultivation. The flowers which 
bear stamens on one stalk and pistils on another, 
can be caused to produce both, or to become per- 
fect flowers, by having a sufficiency of nourishment 
supplied to them. So also, where a special func- 
tion is required for particular circumstances, nature 
has provided for it, not by a new organ, but by a 
modification of a common one, which she has 
effected in development. Thus, for instance, 
some plants destined to live in arid situations, re- 
quire to have a store of water which they may 
slowly absorb. The need is arranged for by a 
cup-like expansion round the stalk, in which water 
remains' after a shower. Now the pitcher^ as this 
is called, is not a new organ, but simply a meta- 
morphose of a leaf. 

These facts clearly shew how all the various 
organic forms of our world are bound up in one — 
how a fundamental unity pervades and embraces 
them all, collecting them, from the humblest lichen 
up to the highest mammifer, in one S3^stem, the 
whole creation of which must have depended upon 
one law or decree of the Almighty, though it did 
not all come forth at one time. After what we 
have seen, the idea of a separate exertion for each 
must appear totally inadmissible. The single fact 


of abortive or rudimentary organs condemns it; 
for these, on such a supposition, could be regarded 
in no other light than as blemishes or blunders — 
the thing of all others most irreconcilable with 
that idea of Almighty Perfection which a general 
view of nature so irresistibly conveys. On the 
other hand, when the organic creation is admitted 
to have been effected by a general law, we see 
nothing in these abortive parts but harmless pecu- 
liarities of development, and interesting evidences 
of the manner in which the Divine Author has 
been pleased to work. 

We have yet to advert to the most interesting 
class of facts connected with the laws of organic 
development. It is only in recent times that phy- 
siologists have observed that each animal passes, 
in the course of its germinal history, through a 
series of changes resembling the •permanent forms 
of the various orders of animals inferior to it in the 
scale. Thus, for instance, an insect, standing at 
the head of the articulated animals, is, in the larva 
state, a true annelid, or worm, the annelida being 
the lowest in the same class. The embryo of a 
crab resembles the perfect animal of the inferior 
order myriapoda, and passes through all the forms 


of transition which characterize the intermediate 
tribes of Crustacea. The frog, for some time after 
its birth, is a fish with external gills, and other 
organs fitting it for an aquatic life, all of which 
are changed as it advances to maturity, and be- 
comes a land animal. The mammifer only passes 
through still more stages, according to its higher 
place in the scale. Nor is man himself exempt 
from this law. His first form is that which is per- 
manent in the animalcule. His organization 
gradually passes through conditions generally re- 
sembling a fish, a reptile, a bird, and the lower 
mammalia, before it attains its specific maturity. 
At one of the last stages of his foetal career, he 
exhibits an intermaxillary bone, which is charac- 
teristic of the perfect ape ; this is suppressed, and 
he may then be said to take leave of the simial 
type, and become a true human creature. Even, 
as we shall see, the varieties of his race are repre- 
sented in the progressive development of an indi- 
vidual of the highest, before we see the adult 
Caucasian, the highest point yet attained in the 
animal scale. 

To come to particular points of the organiza- 
tion. The brain of man, which exceeds that of 


all other animals in complexity of organization 
and fulness of development, is, at one early period, 
only " a simple fold of nervous matter, with diffi- 
culty distinguishable into three parts, while a little 
tail-like prolongation towards the hinder parts, 
and which had been the first to appear, is the 
only representation of a spinal marrow. Now, in 
this state it perfectly resembles the brain of an 
adult fish, thus assuming in transitu the form that 
in the fish is permanent. In a short time, how- 
ever, the structure is become more complex, the 
parts more distinct, the spinal marrow better 
marked; it is now the brain of a reptile. The 
change continues; by a singular motion, certain 
parts (corpora quadragemina) which had hitherto 
appeared on the upper surface, now pass towards 
the lower ; the former is their permanent situation 
in fishes and reptiles, the latter in birds and mam- 
malia. This is another advance in the scale, but 
more remains yet to be done. The complication 
of the organ increases; cavities termed ventricles 
are formed, which do not exist in fishes, reptiles, 
or birds; curiously organized parts, such as the 
corpora striata, are added ; it is now the brain of 
the mammalia. Its last and final change alone 
seems wanting, that which shall render it the 


brain of man.''* And this change in time takes 

So also with the heart. This organ, in the 
mammalia, consists of four cavities, but in the 
reptiles of only three, and in fishes of two only, 
while in the articulated animals it is merely a pro- 
longed tube. Now in the mammal foetus, at a 
certain early stage, the organ has the form of a 
prolonged tube ; and a human being may be said 
to have then the heart of an insect. Subsequently 
it is shortened and w^idened, and becomes divided 
by a contraction into two parts, a ventricle and an 
auricle ; it is now the heart of a fish. A subdivi- 
sion of the auricle afterwards makes a triple-cham- 
bered form, as in the heart of the reptile tribes ; 
lastly, the ventricle being also subdivided, it be- 
comes a full mammal heart. 

Another illustration here presents itself with the 
force of the most powerful and interesting analogy. 
Some of the earliest fishes of our globe, those 
of the Old Red Sandstone, present, as we have 
seen, certain peculiarities, as the one-sided tail 

* Lord's Popular Physiology. It is to Tiedemami that we 
chiefly owe these curious observations ; but ground was first 
broken in this branch of physiological science by Dr. John 



and an inferior position of the mouth. No fishes 
of the present day, in a mature state, are so cha- 
racterized; but some, at a certain stage of their 
existence, have such peculiarities. It occurred to a 
geologist to inquire if the fish which existed before 
the Old Red Sandstone had any peculiarities assi- 
milating them to the foetal condition of existing 
fish, and particularly if they were small. The 
first which occur before the time of the Old Red 
Sandstone, are those described by Mr. Murchison, 
as belonging to the Upper Ludlow Rocks ; they are 
all rather small. Still older are those detected by 
Mr. Philips, in the Aymestry Limestone, being the 
most ancient of the class which have as yet been 
discovered ; these are so extremely minute as only 
to he distinguishable by the microscope. Here we 
apparently have very clear demonstrations of a 
parity, or rather identity, of laws presiding over 
the development of the animated tribes on the 
face of the earth, and that of the individual in 

The tendency of all these illustrations is to 
make us look to development as the principle which 
has been immediately concerned in the peopling 
of this globe, a process extending over a vast space 


of time, but which is nevertheless connected in 
character with the briefer process by which an in- 
dividual being is evoked from a simple germ. 
What mystery is there here — and how shall I pro- 
ceed to enunciate the conception which I have 
ventured to form of what may prove to be its pro- 
per solution ! It is an idea by no means calculated 
to impress by its greatness, or to puzzle by its 
profoundness. It is an idea more marked by sim- 
plicity than perhaps any other of those w^hich have 
explained the great secrets of nature. But in this 
lies, perhaps, one of its strongest claims to the 
faith of mankind. 

The whole train of animated beings, from the 
simplest and oldest up to the highest and most 
recent, are, then, to be regarded as a series of 
advances of the principle of development^ which 
have depended upon external physical circum- 
stances, to which the resulting animals are appro- 
priate. I contemplate the whole phenomena as 
having been in the first place arranged in the 
counsels of Divine Wisdom, to take place, not only 
upon this sphere, but upon all the others in space, 
under necessary modifications, and as being carried 
on, from first to last, here and elsewhere, under 


immediate favour of the creative will or energy.* 
The nucleated vesicle, the fundamental form of all 
organization, v^e must regard as the meeting-point 
between the inorganic and the organic — the end 
of the mineral and beginning of the vegetable and 
animal kingdoms, which thence start in different 
directions, but in perfect parallelism and analogy. 
We have already seen that this nucleated vesicle is 
itself a type of mature and independent being in 
the infusory animalcules, as well as the starting 
point of the foetal progress of every higher indivi- 
dual in creation, both animal and vegetable. We 
have seen that it is a form of being which electric 
agency will produce — though not perhaps usher 
into full life — in albumen, one of those compound 
elements of animal bodies, of which another (urea) 
has been made by artificial means. Remembering 
these things, we are drawn on to the supposition, 
that the first step in the creation of life upon this 
planet was a chemico-electric operation, by ichich 

* When I formed this idea, I was not aware of one which 
seems faintly to foreshadow it — namely, Socrates's doctrine, after- 
wards dilated on by Plato, that " previous to the existence of the 
world, and beyond its present limits, there existed certain arche- 
types, the embodiment (if we may use such a word) of general 
ideas ; and that these archetypes were models, in imitation of 
■which all particular beings were created." 


simple germinal vesicles were produced. This is so 
much, but what were the next steps ? Let a com- 
mon vegetable infusion help us to an answer. 
There, as we have seen, simple forms are produced 
at first, but afterwards they become more compli- 
cated, until at length the life-producing powers of 
the infusion are exhausted. Are we to presume 
that, in this case, the simple engender the compli- 
cated? Undoubtedly, this would not be more 
wonderful as a natural process than one which we 
never think of wondering at, because familiar to us 
— namely, that in the gestation of the mammals, the 
animalcule-like ovum of a few days is the parent, 
in a sense, of the chick-like form of a few weeks, 
and that in all the subsequent stages — fish, reptile, 
&c. — the one may, with scarcely a metaphor, be 
said to be the progenitor of the other. I suggest, 
then, as an hypothesis already countenanced by 
much that is ascertained, and likely to be further 
sanctioned by much that remains to be known, 
that the first step was an advance under favour of 
peculiar conditions, from the simplest forms of being, 
to the next more complicated, and this through the 
medium of the ordinary process of generation. 

Unquestionably, what we ordinarily see of nature 
is calculated to impress a conviction that each 


species invariably produces its like. But I would 
here call attention to a remarkable illustration of 
natural law which has been brought forward by 
Mr. Babbage, in his Ninth Bridgeicater Treatise. 
The reader is requested to suppose himself seated 
before the calculating machine, and observing it. 
It is moved by a weight, and there is a wheel 
which revolves through a small angle round its 
axis, at short intervals, presenting to his eye suc- 
cessively, a series of numbers engraved on its di- 
vided circumference. 

Let the figures thus seen be the series, 1, 2, 3, 4, 
5, &c., of natural numbers, each of which exceeds 
its immediate antecedent by unity. 

" Now, reader," says Mr. Babbage, " let me ask 
you how long you will have counted before you 
are firmly convinced that the engine has been so 
adjusted, that it will continue, while its motion is 
maintained, to produce the same series of natural 
numbers? Some minds are so constituted, that, 
after passing the first hundred terms, they will be 
satisfied that they are acquainted with the law. 
After seeing five hundred terms few will doubt, 
and after the fifty thousandth term the propensity 
to believe that the succeeding term will be fifty 
thousand and one, will be almost irresistible. That 


term will be fifty thousand and one; and the 
same regular succession will continue ; the five mil- 
lionth and the fifty millionth term will still appear 
in their expected order, and one unbroken chain 
of natural numbers will pass before your eyes, from 
one up to one hundred million, 

"True to the vast induction which has been 
made, the next succeeding term will be one hun- 
dred million and one ; but the next number pre- 
sented by the rim of the wheel, instead of being 
one hundred million and two, is one hundred mil- 
lion ten thousand and two. The whole series from 
the commencement being thus, — 




regularly as far as 100,000,001 

100,010,002 the law changes. 



" The law which seemed at first to govern this 
series failed at the hundred million and second 
term. This terra is larger than we expected by 
10,000. The next term is larger than was antici- 
pated by 30,000, and the excess of each term above 
what we had expected forms the following table: — 

being, in fact, the series of triangular numbers,^ 
each multiplied by 10,000. 

* The numbers 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, &c. are formed by add- 
ing the successive terms of the series of natural numbers thus : 
1= 1 
1+2= 3 
14-2+3= 6 
1+2+3+4 = 10, &c. They are called 


" If we now continue to observe the numbers 
presented by the wheel, we shall find, that for a 
hundred, or even for a thousand terms, they con- 
tinue to follow the new law relating to the tri- 
angular numbers ; but after watching them for 
2761 terms, we find that this law fails in the case 
of the 2762d term. 

" If we continue to observe, we shall discover 
another law then coming into action, which also is 
dependent, but in a different manner, on trian- 
gular numbers. This will continue through about 
1430 terms, when a new law is again introduced 
which extends over about 950 terms, and this, too, 
like all its predecessors, fails, and gives place to 
other laws, which appear at different intervals. 

" Now it must be obser^^ed that the laic that each 
number presented hy the engine is greater hy unity 
than the preceding numher^ which law the observer 
had deduced from an induction of a hundred mil- 
lion instances, was not the true law that regulated its 
action, and that the occurrence of the number 

triangular numbers, because a number of points corresponding 
to any term can always be placed in the form of a triangle ; 
for instance — 



100,010,002 at the 100,000,002nd term was as 
necessary a consequence of the original adjustment, 
and might have been as fully foreknown at the com- 
mencement, as was the regular succession of any one 
of the intermediate numbers to its immediate antece- 
dent The same remark applies to the next ap- 
parent deviation from the new law, which was 
founded on an induction of 2761 terms, and also 
to the succeeding law, with this limitation only — 
that, whilst their consecutive introduction at various 
definite intervals, is a necessary consequence of 
the mechanical structure of the engine, our know- 
ledge of analysis does not enable us to predict the 
periods themselves at which the more distant laws 
will be introduced." 

It is not difficult to apply the philosophy of this 
passage to the question under consideration. It 
must be borne in mind that the gestation of a 
single organism is the work of but a few days, 
weeks, or months ; but the gestation (so to speak) 
of a whole creation is a matter probably involving 
enormous spaces of time. Suppose that an ephe- 
meron, hovering over a pool for its one April day 
of life, were capable of observing the fry of the 
frog in the water below. In its aged afternoon, 
having seen no change upon them for such a long 


time, it would be little qualified to conceive that 
the external branchiae of these creatures were to 
decay, and be replaced by internal lungs, that feet 
were to be developed, the tail erased, and the 
aninial then to become a denizen of the land. 
Precisely such may be our difficulty in conceiving 
that any of the species which people our earth is 
capable of advancing by generation to a higher type 
of being. During the whole time which we call the 
historical era, the limits of species have been, to 
ordinary observation, rigidly adhered to. But the 
historical era is, we know, only a small portion of 
the entire age of our globe. We do not know 
what may have happened during the ages which 
preceded its commencement, as we do not know 
what may happen in ages j^et in the distant future. 
All, therefore, that we can properly infer from the 
apparently invariable production of like by like 
is, that such is the ordinary procedure of nature 
in the time immediately passing before our eyes. 
Mr. Babbage's illustration powerfully suggests that 
this ordinary procedure may be subordinate to a 
higher law which only permits it for a time, and 
in proper season interrupts and changes it. We 
shall soon see some philosophical evidence for this 
very conclusion. 


It has been seen that, in the reproduction of 
the higher animals, the new being passes through 
stages in which it is successively fish-like and 
reptile-like. But the resemblance is not to the 
adult fish or the adult reptile, but to the fish and 
reptile at a certain point in their foetal progress ; 
this holds true with regard to the vascular, ner- 
vous, and other systems alike. It may be illus- 
trated by a simple diagram. The foetus of all the 
four classes may be supposed to advance in an 
identical condition to the point A. ^j 
The fish there diverges and passes 
along a line apart, and peculiar to 
itself, to its mature state at F. -^ 
The reptile, bird, and mammal, 
go on together to C, where the 
reptile diverges in like manner, a 
and advances by itself to R. The 
bird diverges at D, and goes on - 
to B. The mammal then goes forward in a straight 
line to the highest point of organization at M. 
This diagram shews only the main ramifications ; 
but the reader must suppose minor ones, repre- 
senting the subordinate differences of orders, tribes, 
families, genera, &c., if he wishes to extend his 
views to the whole varieties of being in the animal 


kingdom. Limiting ourselves at present to the 
outline afforded by this diagram, it is apparent 
that the only thing required for an advance from 
one type to another in the generative process is 
that, for example, the fish embryo should not di- 
verge at A, but go on to C before it diverges, in 
which case the progeny will be, not a fish, but a 
reptile. To protract the straightforicard part of 
the gestation over a small space — and from species 
to species the space would be small indeed— is all 
that is necessary. 

This might be done by the force of certain 
external conditions operating upon the parturient 
system. The nature of these conditions we can 
only conjecture, for their operation, which in the 
geological eras was so powerful, has in its main 
strength been long interrupted, and is now per- 
haps only allowed to work in some of the lowest 
departments of the organic world, or under ex- 
traordinary casualties in some of the higher, and 
to these points the attention of science has as yet 
been little directed. But though this knowledge 
were never to be clearly attained, it need not 
much affect the present argument, provided it be 
satisfactorily shewn that there must be some such 
influence within the range of natural things. 


To this conclusion it must be greatly conducive 
that the law of organic development is still daily 
seen at work to certain effects, only somewhat short 
of a transition from species to species. Sex we have 
seen to be a matter of development. There is an 
instance, in a humble department of the animal 
world, of arrangements being made by the animals 
themselves for adjusting this law to the production 
of a particular sex. Amongst bees, as amongst 
several other insect tribes, there is in each com- 
munity but one true female, the queen bee, the 
workers being false females or neuters; that is to say, 
sex is carried on in them to a point where it is at- 
tended by sterility. The preparatory states of the 
queen bee occupy sixteen days; those of the 
neuters, twenty ; and those of males, twenty-four. 
Now it is a fact, settled by innumerable observa- 
tions and experiments, that the bees can so modify 
a worker in the larva state, that, when it emerges 
from the pupa, it is found to be a queen or true 
female. For this purpose they enlarge its cell, 
make a pyramidal hollow to allow of its assuming 
a vertical instead of a horizontal position, keep it 
warmer than other larvae are kept, and feed it with 
a peculiar kind of food. From . these simple cir- 
cumstances, leading to a shortening of the embry- 


Otic condition, results a creature difFe*ent in form, 
and also in dispositions, from what would have 
otherwise been produced. Some of the organs 
possessed by the worker are here altogether wanting. 
We have a creature " destined to enjoy love, to 
burn with jealousy and anger, to be incited to 
vengeance, and to pass her time without labour," 
instead of one " zealous for the good of the com- 
munity, a defender of the public rights, enjoying 
an immunity from the stimulus of sexual appetite 
and the pains of parturition ; laborious, indus- 
trious, patient, ingenious, skilful; incessantly en- 
gaged in the nurture of the young, in collecting 
honey and pollen, in elaborating wax, in con- 
structing cells and the like ! — paying the most 
respectful and assiduous attention to objects which, 
had its ovaries been developed, it would have 
hated and pursued with the most vindictive fury 
till it had destroyed them !"* All these changes 
may be produced by a mere modification of the 
embryotic progress, which it is within the power 
of the adult animals to eifect. But it is important 
to observe that this modification is different from 
working a direct change upon the embryo. It is 

* Kirby and Spence. 


not the different food which effects a metamor- 
phosis. All that is done is merely to accelerate 
the period of the insect's perfection. By the 
arrangements made and the food given, the em- 
bryo becomes sooner fit for being ushered forth in 
its imago or perfect state. Development may be 
said to be thus arrested at a particular stage — that 
early one at which the female sex is complete. In 
the other circumstances, it is allowed to go on four 
days longer, and a stage is then reached between 
the two sexes, which in this species is designed to 
be the perfect condition of a large portion of the 
community. Four days more make it a perfect 
male. It is at the same time to be observed that 
there is, from the period of oviposition, a destined 
distinction between the sexes of the young bees. 
The queen lays the whole of the eggs which are 
designed to become workers, before she begins to 
lay those which become males. But probably the 
condition of her reproductive system governs the 
matter of sex, for it is remarked that when her 
impregnation is delayed beyond the twenty-eighth 
day of her entire existence, she lays only eggs 
which become males. 

We have here, it will be admitted, a most re- 
markable illustration of the principle of develop- 


ment, although in an operation limited to the pro- 
duction of sex only. Let it not be said that 
the phenomena concerned in the generation of 
bees ma}^ be very different from those concerned 
in the reproduction of the higher animals. There 
is a unity throughout nature which makes the one 
case an instructive reflection of the other. 

We shall now see an instance of development 
operating within the production of what approaches 
to the character of variety of species. It is fully 
established that a human family, tribe, or nation, 
is liable, in the course of generations, to be either 
advanced from a mean form to a higher one, or 
degraded from a higher to a lower, by the influ- 
ence of the physical conditions in which it lives. The 
coarse features, and other structural peculiarities of 
the negro race only continue while these people live 
amidst the circumstances usually associated with 
barbarism. In a more temperate clime, and higher 
social state, the face and figure become greatly 
refined. The few African nations which possess 
any civilization also exhibit forms approaching the 
European; and when the same people in the 
United States of America have enjoyed a wi thin- 
door life for several generations, they assimilate to 
the whites amongst whom they live. On the other 



hand, there are authentic instances of a people 
originally well-formed and good-looking, being 
brought, by imperfect diet and a variety of physi- 
cal hardships, to a meaner form. It is remarkable 
that prominence of the jaws, a recession and 
diminution of the cranium, and an elongation and 
attenuation of the limbs, are peculiarities always 
produced by these miserable conditions, for they 
indicate an unequivocal retrogression towards the 
type of the lower animals. Thus we see nature 
alike willing to go back and to go forward. Both 
effects are simply the result of the operation of 
the law of development in the generative system. 
Give good conditions, it advances; bad ones, it 
recedes. Now, perhaps, it is only because there 
is no longer a possibility, in the higher types of 
being, of giving sufficiently favourable conditions 
to carry on species to species, that we see the 
operation of the law so far limited. 

Let us trace this law also in the production of 
certain classes of monstrosities. A human foetus 
is often left with one of the most important parts 
of its frame imperfectly developed: the heart, for 
instance, goes no farther than the three-chambered 
form, so that it is the heart of a reptile. There 
are even instances of this organ being left in the 


two-chambered or fish form. Such defects are 
the result of nothing more than a failure of the 
power of development in the system of the mother, 
occasioned by weak health or misery. Here we 
have apparently a realization of the converse of 
those conditions which carry on species to species, 
so far, at least, as one organ is concerned. Seeing 
a complete specific retrogression in this one point, 
how easy it is to imagine an access of favourable 
conditions sufficient to reverse the phenomenon, 
and make a fish mother develop a reptile heart, 
or a reptile mother develop a mammal one. It is 
no great boldness to surmise that a super-adequacy 
in the measure of this under-adequacy (and the 
one thing seems as natural an occurrence as the 
other) would suffice in a goose to give its progeny 
the body of a rat, and produce the ornithorynchus, 
or might give the progeny of an ornithorynchus 
the mouth and feet of a true rodent, and thus 
complete at two stages the passage from the aves 
to the mammalia. 

Perhaps even the transition from species to 
species does still take place in some of the obscurer 
fields of creation, or under extraordinary casualties, 
though science professes to have no such facts on 
record. It is here to be remarked, that such facts 
L 2 


might often happen, and yet no record be taken of 
them, for so strong is the prepossession for the 
doctrine of invariable like-production, that such 
circumstances, on occurring, would be almost sure 
to be explained away on some other supposition, 
or, if presented, would be disbelieved and neglected. 
Science, therefore, has no such facts, for the very 
same reason that some small sects are said to have 
no discreditable members — namely, that they do 
not receive such persons, and extrude all who 
begin to verge upon the character. There are, 
nevertheless, some facts which have chanced to be 
reported without any reference to this hypothesis, 
and which it seems extremely difficult to explain 
satisfactorily upon any other. One of these has 
already been mentioned — a progression in the 
forms of the animalcules in a vegetable infusion 
from the simpler to the more complicated, a sort 
of microcosm, representing the whole history of 
the progress of animal creation as displayed by 
geology. Another is given in the history of the 
Acarus Crossii, which may be only the ultimate 
stage of a series of similar transformations effected 
by electric agency in the solution subjected to it. 
There is, however, one direct case of a translation 
of species, which has been presented with a respect- 


able amount of authority.* It appears that, when- 
ever oats sown at the usual time are kept cropped 
down during summer and autumn, and allowed to 
remain over the winter, a thin crop of rye is the 
harvest presented at the close of the ensuing 
summer. This experiment has been tried re- 
peatedly, with but one result ; invariably the secede 
cereale is the crop reaped where the avena sativa, 
a recognised different species, was sown. Now it 
will not satisfy a strict inquirer to be told that the 
seeds of the rye were latent in the ground and 
only superseded the dead product of the oats ; for 
if any such fact were in the case, why should the 
usurping grain be always rye? Perhaps those 
curious facts which have been stated with regard 
to forests of one kind of trees, when burnt down, 
being succeeded (without planting) by other kinds, 
may yet be found most explicable, as this is, upon 
the hypothesis of a progression of species which 
takes place under certain favouring conditions, 
now apparently of comparatively rare occurrence. 
The case of the oats is the more valuable, as bear- 
ing upon the suggestion as to a protraction of the 
gestation at a particular part of its course. Here, 

* See an article by Dr. Weissenborn, in the New Series of 
•* Magazine of Natural History," vol. i. p. 574. 


the generative process is, by the simple mode of 
cropping down, kept up for a whole year beyond 
its usual term. The type is thus allowed to ad- 
vance, and what was oats becomes rye. 

The idea, then, which I form of the progress of 
organic life upon the globe — and the hypothesis is 
applicable to all similar theatres of vital being — is, 
that the simplest and most primitive type, under a 
law to which that of like-production is subordinate, 
gave birth to the type next above it, that this again 
produced the next higher, and so on to the very highest, 
the stages of advance being in all cases very small 
— namely, from one species only to another; so 
that the phenomenon has always been of a simple 
and modest character. Whether the whole of any 
species was at once translated forward, or only a 
few parents were employed to give birth to the 
new type, must remain undetermined; but, sup- 
posing that the former was the case, we must pre- 
sume that the moves along the line or lines were 
simultaneous, so that the place vacated by one 
species was immediately taken by the next in 
succession, and so on back to the first, for the 
supply of which the formation of a new germinal 
vesicle out of inorganic matter was alone necessary. 
Thus, the production of new forms, as shewn in 


the pages of the geological record, has never been 
anything more than a new stage of progress in 
gestation, an event as simply natural, and attended 
as little by any circumstances of a wonderful or 
startling kind, as the silent advance of an ordinary 
mother from one week to another of her pregnancy. 
Yet, be it remembered, the whole phenomena are, 
in another point of view, wonders of the highest 
kind, for in each of them we have to trace the 
effect of an Almighty Will which had arranged 
the whole in such harmony with external physical 
circumstances, that both were developed in parallel 
steps — and probably this development upon our 
planet is but a sample of what has taken place, 
through the same cause, in all the other countless 
theatres of being which are suspended in space. 

This may be the proper place at which to intro- 
duce the preceding illustrations in a form calcu- 
lated to bring them more forcibly before the mind 
of the reader. The following table was suggested 
to me, in consequence of seeing the scale of ani- 
mated nature presented in Dr. Fletcher's Rudi- 
ments of Physiology. Taking that scale as its 
basis, it shews the wonderful parity observed in 
the progress of creation, as presented to our obser- 
vation in the succession of fossils, and also in the 


foetal progress of one of the principal human 
organs.* This scale, it may be remarked, was not 
made up with a view to support such an hypothesis 
as the present, nor with any apparent regard to the 
history of fossils, but merely to express the appear- 
ance of advancement in the orders of the Cuvierian 
system, assuming, as the criterion of that advance- 
ment, " an increase in the number and extent of 
the manifestations of life, or of the relations which 
an organized being bears to the external world." 
Excepting in the relative situation of the annelida 
and a few of the mammal orders, the parity is 

* " It is a fact of the highest interest and moment that as the 
brain of every tribe of animals appears to pass, during its develop- 
ment, in succession through the types of all those below it, so the 
brain of man passes through the types of those of every tribe in the 
creation. It represents, accordingly, before the second month of 
utero-gestation, that of an avertebrated animal ; at the second 
month, that of an osseous fish; at the third, that of a turtle; at 
the fourth, that of a bird ; at the fifth, that of one of the rodentia ; 
at the sixth, that of one of the ruminantia ; at the seventh, that 
of one of the digitigrada ; at the eighth, that of one of the qua- 
drumana ; till at length, at the ninth, it compasses the brain of 
Man ! It is hardly necessary to say, that all this is only an ap- 
proximation to the truth ; since neither is the brain of all osseous 
fishes, of all turtles, of all birds, nor of all the species of any one 
of the above order of mammals, by any means precisely the same, 
nor does the brain of the human foetus at any time precisely re- 
semble, perhaps, that of any individual whatever among the 
lower animals. Nevertheless, it may be said to represent, at 
each of the above-mentioned periods, the aggregate, as it were. 


perfect ; nor may even these small discrepancies 
appear when the order of fossils shall have been 
further investigated, or a more correct scale shall 
have been formed. Meanwhile, it is a wonderful 
evidence in favour of our hypothesis, that a scale 
formed so arbitrarily should coincide to such a 
nearness with our present knowledge of the suc- 
cession of animal forms upon earth, and also that 
both of these series should harmonize so well with 
the view given by modern physiologists of the 
embryo tic progress of one of the organs of the 
highest order of animals. 

of the brains of each of the tribes stated ; consisting as it does, 
about the second month, chiefly of the mesial parts of the cere- 
beUum, the corpora quadrigemina, thalami optici, rudiments of 
the hemispheres of the cerebrum and corpora striata; and re- 
ceiving in succession, at the third, the rudiments of the lobes of 
the cerebrum ; at the fourth, those of the fornix, corpus callosum, 
and septum lucidum ; at the fifth, the tubor annulare, and so 
forth ; the posterior lobes of the cerebrum increasing from before 
to behind, so as to cover the thalami optici about the fourth month, 
the corpora quadrigemina about the sixth, and the cerebellum 
about the seventh. This, then, is another example of an increase 
in the complexity of an organ succeeding its centralization ; as if 
Nature, having first piled up her materials in one spot, delighted 
afterwards to employ her abundance, not so much in enlarging 
old parts as in forming new ones upon the old foimdations, and 
thus adding to the complexity of a fabric, the rudimental struc- 
ture of which is in all animals equally simple." — Fletcher's Hudi-^ 
merits of Physiology, 





(The numbers indicate orders:) 


Radiata (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) 


MoLLUSCA (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11) 


\ Double-shelled MoUusks 

(Annelida {12, 13, 14)- - - f Crustacea - - - 
RTicu- J (j^^gf^^^^ ^^5^ jg^ J7^ jg^ j9^ 20) J Annelida - - - 

[Arachnida & Insecta (21 — 31) I Crustaceous Fishes 



Pisces (32, 33, 34, 35, 36) 

Beptilia (37, 38, 39, 40) 

True Fishes 

Tiscine Saurians (ichthyosaurus, &c.) 




^^Batrachians .-. 

^yes (41, 42,43, 44, 45, 46) - Birds 

47Cetacea (Bone of a marsupial animal) - - - 
48 Ruminantia 

49 Pachydermata - Pachydermata (tapirs, horses, &c.) 
50 Edentata 

51 Rodentia - - Rodentia (dormouse, squirrel, &c.) 

52 Marsupialia - Marsupialia (racoon, opossum, &c.) 
53 Amphibia 

Mammalial ^^ Digitigrada - Digitigrada (genette, fox, wolf, &c.) 

55 Plantigrada - Plantigrada (bear) ------ 

Cetacea (lamantins, seals, whales) - 

56 Insectivora - - Edentata (sloths, &c.) 

Ruminantia (oxen, deer, &c.) - - 

57 Cheiroptera 

58 Quadrumana - Quadrumana (monkeys) - - - - 

59 Bimana - - - Bimana (man) 



1 Gneiss and Mica Slate system 

\ 2 Clay Slate and Grawacke system 

^3 Silurian system 

4 Old Red Sandstone 

5 Carboniferous formation 

■ 6 New Red Sandstone 

7 Oolite 

8 Cretaceous formation 

-9 Lower Eocene 

10 Miocene 

1 Pliocene 


1st month, that of an avertebrated 
animal ; 

12 Superficial deposits 

2nd month, that of a fish ; 

3rd month, that of a turtle 

4th month, that of a bird ; 

5th month, that of a rodent ; 
6th month, that of a ruminant ; 

7th month, that of a digitigrade 
animal ; 

8th month, that of the quadrumana ; 
9th month, attains full human cha- 


The reader has seen physical conditions several 
times referred to, as to be presumed to have in 
some way governed the progress of the develop- 
ment of the zoological circle. This language may 
seem vague, and, it may be asked, — can any par- 
ticular physical condition be adduced as likely to 
have affected development? To this it may be 
answered, that air and light are probably amongst 
the principal agencies of this kind which operated 
in educing the various forms of being. Light is 
found to be essential to the development of the 
individual embryo. When tadpoles were placed 
in a perforated box, and that box sunk in the 
Seine, light being the only condition thus ab- 
stracted, they grew to a great size in their original 
form, but did not pass through the usual metamor- 
phose which brings them to their mature state as 
frogs. The proteus, an animal of the frog kind, 
inhabiting the subterraneous waters of Carniola, 
and which never acquires perfect lungs so as to 
become a land animal, is presumed to be an ex- 
ample of arrested development, from the same 
cause. When, in connexion with these facts, we 
learn that human mothers living in dark and close 
cells under ground, — that is to sa}^, with an in- 
adequate provision of air and light, — are found to 


produce an unusual proportion of defective chil- 
dren,* we can appreciate the important effects of 
both these physical conditions in ordinary reproduc- 
tion. Now there is nothing to forbid the supposition 
that the earth has been at different stages of its career 
under different conditions, as to both air and light. 
On the contrary, we have seen reason for sup- 
posing that the proportion of carbonic acid gas 
(the element fatal to animal life) was larger at the 
time of the carboniferous formation than it after- 
wards became. We have also seen that astrono- 
mers regard the zodiacal light as a residuum of 
matter enveloping the sun, and which was pro- 
bably at one time denser than it is now. Here 
we have the indications of causes for a progress in 
the purification of the atmosphere and in the 
diffusion of light during the earlier ages of the 
earth's history, with which the progress of organic 
life may have been conformable. An accession to 
the proportion of oxygen, and the effulgence of 
the central luminary, may have been the imme- 
diate prompting cause of all those advances from 

* Some poor people having taken up their abode in the cells 
under the fortifications of Lisle, the proportion of defective 
infants produced by them became so great, that it was deemed 
necessary to issue an order commanding these cells to be shut up. 


species to species which we have seen, upon other 
grounds, to be necessarily supposed as having 
taken place. And causes of the like nature may 
well be supposed to operate on other spheres of 
being, as well as on this. I do not indeed present 
these ideas as furnishing the true explanation of 
the progress of organic creation ; they are merely 
thrown out as hints towards the formation of a 
just hypothesis, the completion of which is only 
to be looked for when some considerable advances 
shall have been made in the amount and character 
of our stock of knowledge. 

Early in this century, M. Lamarck, a naturalist 
of the highest character, suggested an hypothesis of 
organic progress which deservedly incurred much 
ridicule, although it contained a glimmer of the 
truth. He surmised, and endeavoured, with a 
great deal of ingenuity, to prove, that one being 
advanced in the course of generations to another, 
in consequence merely of its experience of wants 
calling for the exercise of its faculties in a parti- 
cular direction, by which exercise new develop- 
ments of organs took place, ending in variations 
sufficient to constitute a new species. Thus he 
thought that a bird would be driven by necessity 
to seek its food in the water, and that, in its 


efforts to swim, the outstretching of its claws 
would lead to the expansion of the intermediate 
membranes, and it would thus become web- 
footed. Now it is possible that wants and the 
exercise of faculties have entered in some manner 
into the production of the phenomena which we 
have been considering ; but certainly not in the 
way suggested by Lamarck, whose whole notion is 
obviously so inadequate to account for the rise of 
the organic kingdoms, that we only can place it with 
pity among the follies of the wise. Had the laws 
of organic development been known in his time, 
his theory might have been of a more imposing 
kind. It is upon these that the present hypothesis 
is mainly founded. I take existing natural means, 
and shew them to have been capable of producing 
all the existing organisms, with the simple and 
easily conceivable aid of a higher generative law, 
which we perhaps still see operating upon a limited 
scale. I also go beyond the French philosopher 
to a very important point, the original Divine con- 
ception of all the forms of being which these na- 
tural laws were only instruments in working out 
and realizing. The actuality of such a conception 
I hold to be strikingly demonstrated by the disco- 
veries of Macleay, Vigors, and Swainson, with re- 


spect to the affinities and analogies of animal (and 
by implication vegetable) organisms.* Such a re- 
gularity in the structure ^ as we may call it, of the 
classification of animals, as is shewn in their sys- 
tems, is totally irreconcilable with the idea of form 
going on to form merely as needs and wishes in the 
animals themselves dictated. Had such been the 
case, all would have been irregular, as things arbi- 
trary necessarily are. But, lo, the whole plan of 
being is as symmetrical as the plan of a house, or 
the laying out of an old-fashioned garden ! This 
must needs have been devised and arranged for 
beforehand. And what a preconception or fore- 
thought have we here ! Let us only for a moment 
consider how various are the external physical con- 
ditions in which animals live — climate, soil, tempe- 
rature, land, water, air — the peculiarities of food, 
and the various ways in which it is to be sought ; 
the peculiar circumstances in which the business of 
reproduction and the care-taking of the young are 
to be attended to — all these required to be taken 
into account, and thousands of animals were to be 
formed suitable in organization and mental cha- 
racter for the concerns they were to have with 

* These affinities and analogies are explained in the next 


these various conditions and circumstances — here 
a tooth fitted for crushing nuts ; there a claw fitted 
to serve as a hook for suspension ; here to repress 
teeth and develop a bony net-work instead ; there 
to arrange for a bronchial apparatus, to last only for 
a certain brief time ; and all these animals were 
to be schemed out, each as a part of a great 
range, which was on the whole to be rigidly regular: 
let us, I say, only consider these things, and we 
shall see that the decreeing of laws to bring the 
whole about was an act involving such a degree 
of wisdom and device as we only can attribute, 
adoringly, to the one Eternal and Unchangeable. 
It may be asked, how does this reflection comport 
with that timid philosophy which would have us 
to draw back from the investigation of God's 
works, lest the knowledge of them should make us 
undervalue his greatness and forget his paternal 
character? Does it not rather appear that our 
ideas of the Deity can only be worthy of him in 
the ratio in which we advance in a knowledge of his 
works and ways ; and that the acquisition of this 
knowledge is consequently an available means of 
our growing in a genuine reverence for him ! 

But the idea that any of the lower animals have 
been concerned in any way with the origin of 


man — is not this degrading ? Degrading is a term, 
expressive of a notion of the human mind, and the 
human mind is liable to prejudices which prevent 
its notions from being invariably correct. Were 
we acquainted for the first time with the circum- 
stances attending the production of an individual 
of our race, we might equally think them degrad- 
ing, and be eager to deny them, and exclude them 
from the admitted truths of nature. Knowing 
this fact familiarly and beyond contradiction, a 
healthy and natural mind finds no difficulty in 
regarding it complacently. Creative Providence 
has been pleased to order that it should be so, and 
it must therefore be submitted to. Now the idea as 
to the progress of organic creation, if we become 
satisfied of its truth, ought to be received precisely 
in this spirit. It has pleased Providence to arrange 
that one species should give birth to another, until 
the second highest gave birth to man, who is the 
very highest : be it so, it is our part to admire 
and to submit. The very faintest notion of there 
being anything ridiculous or degrading in the 
theory — how absurd does it appear, when we re- 
member that every individual amongst us actually 
passes through the characters of the insect, the fish, 
and reptile, (to speak nothing of others,) before he 


is permitted to breathe the breath of hfe ! But 
such notions are mere emanations of false pride 
and ignorant prejudice. He who conceives them 
little reflects that they, in reality, involve the prin- 
ciple of a contempt for the works and ways of God, 
For it may be asked, if He, as appears, has chosen 
to employ inferior organisms as a generative me- 
dium for the production of higher ones, even 
including ourselves, what right have we, his humble 
creatures, to find fault? There is, also, in this 
prejudice, an element of unkindliness towards the 
lower animals, which is utterly out of place. These 
creatures are all of them part products of the 
Almighty Conception, as well as ourselves. All 
of them display wondrous evidences of his wisdom 
and benevolence. All of them have had assigned 
to them by their Great Father a part in the drama 
of the organic world, as well as ourselves. Why 
should they be held in such contempt ? Let us 
regard them in a proper spirit, as parts of the 
grand plan, instead of contemplating them in the 
light of frivolous prejudices, and we shall be alto- 
gether at a loss to see how there should be any 
degradation in the idea of our race having been 
genealogically connected with them. 




It is now high time to advert to the system formed 
by the animated tribes, both with a view to the 
possible illustration of the preceding argument, 
and for the light which it throws upon that general 
system of nature which it is the more comprehen- 
sive object of this book to ascertain. 

The vegetable and animal kingdoms are arranged 
upon a scale, starting from simply organized forms, 
and going on to the more complex, each of these 
forms being but slightly different from those next 
to it on both sides. The lowest and most slightly 

macleay's system of animated nature. 237 

developed forms in the two kingdoms are so closely 
connected, that it is impossible to say where vege- 
table ends and animal begins. United at what 
may be called their bases, they start away in dif- 
ferent directions, but not altogether to lose sight of 
each other. On the contrar)^, they maintain a 
strict analogy throughout the whole of their sub- 
sequent courses, sub-kingdom for sub-kingdom, 
class for class ; shewing a beautiful, though as yet 
obscure relation between the two grand forms of 
being, and consequently a unity in the laws which 
brought them both into existence. So complete 
does this analogy appear, even in the present im- 
perfect state of science, that I fully expect in a 
few years to see the animal and vegetable kingdoms 
duly ranked up against each other in a system of 
parallels, which will admit of our assigning to each 
species in the former the particular shrub or tree 
corresponding to it in the latter, all marked by 
unmistakable analogies of the most interesting 

It is as yet but a few years since a system of 
subordinate analogies not less remarkable began 
to be speculated upon as within the range of the 
animal kingdom. Probabl}^ it also exists in the 
vegetable kingdom ; but to this point no direct 



attention has been given ; so we are left to infer 
that such is the case from theoretical considerations 
only. We are indebted for what we know of these 
beautiful analogies to three naturalists — Macleay, 
Vigors, and Swainson, whose labours tempt us to 
dismiss in a great measure the artificial classifi- 
cations hitherto used, and make an entirely new 
conspectus of the animal kingdom, not to speak of 
the corresponding reform which will be required 
in our systems of botany also. 

The Macleay system, as it may be called in 
honour of its principal author, announces that, 
whether we take the whole animal kingdom, or 
any definite division of it, we shall find that we 
are examining a group of beings which is capable 
of being arranged along a series of close affinities, 
in a circular form f — that is to say, starting from 
any one portion of the group, when it is properly 
arranged, we can proceed from one to another by 
minute gradations, till at length, having run through 
the whole, we return to the point whence we set 
out. All natural groups of animals are, therefore, 
in the language of Mr. Macleay, circular ; and the 
possibility of throwing any supposed group into a 
circular arrangement is held as a decisive test of 
its being a real or natural one. It is of course to 


be understood that each circle is composed of a 
set of inferior circles ; for example, a set of tribe 
circles composes an order ; a set of order circles, 
again, forms a class ; and so on. Of each group, 
the component circles are invariably Jive in number : 
thus, in the animal kingdom, there are five sub- 
kingdoms, — the vertebrata, annulosa,* radiata, 
acrita,t mollusca. Take, again, one of these sub- 
kingdoms, the vertebrata, and we find it composed 
of five classes, — the mammalia, reptilia, pisces, 
amphibia, and aves, each of the other sub-king- 
doms being similarly divisible. Take the mam- 
malia, and it is in like manner found to be com- 
posed of five orders, — the cheirotheria,J ferae, 
cetacea, glires, ungulata. Even in this numerical 
uniformity, which goes down to the lowest ramifi- 
cations of the system, there would be something 
very remarkable, as arguing a definite and pre- 
conceived arrangement ; but this is only the least 
curious part of the Macleay theory. 

We shall best understand the wonderfully com- 

* Corresponding to the articulata of Cuvier. 

f A new sub-kingdom, made out of part of the radiata of 

% This is a newly applied term, the reasons for which will be 
explained in the sequel. 


plex system of analogies developed by that theory, 
if we start from the part of the kingdom in which 
they were first traced, — namely, the class aves, or 
birds. This gives for its five orders, — incessores, 
(perching birds,) raptores, (birds of iprej,) natatoreSf 
(swimming birds,) grallatores, (waders,) rasores, 
(scrapers.) In these orders our naturalists dis- 
cerned distinct organic characters, of different 
degrees of perfectness, the first being the most 
perfect with regard to the general character of the 
class, and therefore the best representative of that 
class ; whence it was called the typical order. The 
second was found to be inferior, or rather to have 
a less perfect balance of qualities ; hence it was 
designated the sub-typical. In this are compre- 
hended the chief noxious and destructive animals 
of the circle to which it belongs. The other three 
groups were called aberrant, as exhibiting a much 
wider departure from the typical standard, al- 
though the last of the three is observed to make a 
certain recovery, and join on to the typical group, 
so as to complete the circle. The first of the 
aberrant groups (natatores) is remarkable for 
making the water the theatre of its existence, and 
the birds composing it are in general of compara- 
tively large bulk. The second (grallatores) are 


long-limbed and long-billed, that they may wade 
and pick up their subsistence in the shallows and 
marshes in which they chiefly live. The third 
(rasores) are distinguished by strong feet, for walk- 
ing or running on the ground, and for scraping in 
it for their food ; also by wings designed to scarcely 
raise them off the earth ; and, farther, by a general 
domesticity of character and usefulness to man. 

Now the most remarkable circumstance is, that 
these organic characters, habits, and moral pro- 
perties, were found to be traceable more or less 
distinctly in the corresponding portions of every 
other group, even of those belonging to distant 
subdivisions of the animal kingdom, as, for instance, 
the insects. The incessores (typical order of aves) 
being reduced to its constituent circles or tribes, 
it was found that these strictly represented the 
five orders. In the conirostres are the perfections 
which belong to the incessores as an order, with 
the conspicuous external feature of a comparatively 
small notch in their bills ; in the dentirostres, the 
notch is strong and toothlike, (hence the name of 
the tribe) assimilating them to the raptores; the 
Jissirostres come into analogy with the natatores in 
the slight development of their feet and their 
great powers of flight; the tenuirostres have the 



small mouths and long soft bills of the grallatores. 
Finally, the scansores resemble the rasores in their 
superior intelligence and docility, and in their 
having strong limbs and a bill entire at the tip. 
This parity of qualities becomes clearer when 
placed in a tabular form : — 

Orders of Birds. Characters. Tribes of Incessores. 

{ Most perfect of their circle ; ) ^ , 
Incessores - \ ^_ o^^^^ ,i ^ Comrostres. 

( BOtch of bill small - - - j 

Raptores - - Notch of bill like a tooth - Dentirostres. 

f Sliffhtly developed feet ; ) -r,. . 

Natatores- - \ ^. ■, ^ Fissirostres. 

[ strong flight - - - - j 

Grallatores - Small mouths ; long soft bills Tenuirostres. 

_ f Strong feet, short wings ; ) „ 

Rasores - - ^ , ., , , . v Scansores. 

[ docile and domestic - - j 

Some comprehensive terms are much wanted to 
describe these five characters, so curiously repeated 
throughout the whole of the animal, and probably 
also the vegetable kingdom. Meanwhile, Mr. 
Swainson calls^ them typical, sub- typical, natatorial, 
suctorial,* and rasorial. Some of his illustrations 
of the principle are exceedingly interesting. He 
shews that the leading animal of a typical circle 
usually has a combination of properties concen- 

* This is preferred to grallatorial, as more comprehensively- 
descriptive. There is the same need for a substitute for rasorial, 
which is only applicable to birds. 


trated in itself, without any of these preponder- 
ating remarkably over others. The sub-typical 
circles, he says, " do not comprise the largest in- 
dividuals in bulk, but always those which are the 
most powerfully armed, either for inflicting injury 
on their own class, for exciting terror, producing 
injury, or creating annoyance to man. Their dis- 
positions are often sanguinary, since the forms 
most conspicuous among them live by rapine, and 
subsist on the blood of other animals. They are, 
in short, symbolically types o^ eviV This symbo- 
lical character is most conspicuous about the centre 
of the series of gradations : — 

Kingdom Annulosa. 

Sub-kingdom Reptilia. 

Class (Mammalia) .... Ferae. 

(Aves) Raptores. 

In the annulosa it is not distinct, although we 
must also remember that insects do produce enor- 
mous ravages and annoyance in many parts of the 
earth. In the reptilia it is more distinct, since to 
this class belong the ophidia, (serpents,) an order 
peculiarly noxious. It comes to a kind of climax 
in the ferae and raptores, which fulfil the function 
of butchers among land animals. As we descend 
M 2 


through tribes, families, genera, species, it becomes 
fainter and fainter, but never ahogether vanishes. 
In the dentirostres, for instance, we have in a sub- 
dued form the hooked bill and predaceous cha- 
racter of the raptores; to this tribe belongs the 
family of the shrikes, so deadly to all the lesser 
field birds. In the genus bos, we have, in the 
sub-typical group, the bison, " wild, revengeful, 
and shewing an innate detestation of man." In 
equus, we have, in the same situation, the zebra, 
which actually shews the stripes of the tiger, and is 
as remarkable for its wildness as its congeners, the 
horse and ass, are for their docility and usefulness. 
To quote again from Mr. Swainson, " the singular 
threatening aspect which the caterpillars of the 
sphinx moth assume on being disturbed, is a re- 
markable modification of the terrific or evil nature 
which is impressed in one form or another, pal- 
pable or remote, upon all sub-typical groups; for 
this division of the lepidopterous order is precisely 
of this denomination. In the pre-eminent type of 
this order of insects, the butterflies, (papilionides,) 
our associations little prepare us for expecting any 
trace of the evil principle ; but here, too, there is 
a sub-typical division. . These," says our natu- 
ralist, " are distinguished by their caterpillars 


being armed with formidable spines or prickles, 
which in general are possessed of some highly acri- 
monious or poisonous quality, capable of injuring 
those who touch them. It is only," continues Mr. 
Swainson, " when extensive researches bring to 
light a uniformity of results, that we can venture 
to believe they are so universal as to deserve being 
ranked as primary laws. Thus, when a celebrated 
entomologist denounced as impure the black and 
lurid beetles forming the saprophagous petalocera 
of Mr. Macleay, a tribe living only upon putrid 
vegetable matter, and hiding themselves in their 
disgusting food, or in dark hollows of the earth, 
neither of these celebrated men suspected the 
absolute fact, elicited from our analogies of this 
group, that this very tribe constituted the sub- 
typical group of one of the primary divisions of 
coleopterous insects : nor had they any suspicion 
that, by the filthy habits and repulsive forms of 
these beetles, nature had intended that they should 
be types or emblems of hundreds of other groups, 
distinguished by peculiarities equally indicative of 
evil. On the other hand, the thalerophagous 
petalocera, forming the typical group of the same 
division, present us with all the perfections and 
habits belonging to their kind. These families 


of beetles live only upon fresh vegetables ; they 
are diurnal, and sport in the glare of day, pure 
in their food, elegant in their shapes, and beau- 
tiful in their colours."* 

The third type, (first of the three aberrant,) 
called by Mr. Swainson, the natatorial, or aquatic, 
are chiefly remarkable for their bulk, the dispro- 
portionate size of the head, and the absence, or 
slight development of the feet. They partake of 
the predaceous and destructive character of the 
adjoining sub-typical group, and the means of 
their predacity are generally found in the mouth 
alone. In the primary division of the animal 
kingdom, v^e find the type in the radiata, not one 
of which lives out of water. In the vertebrata, it 
is in the fishes. In both of these, feet are totally 
wanting. Descending to the class mammalia, we 
have this type in the cetacea, which present a 
comparatively slight development of limbs. In 
the aves, as we have seen, the type is presented in 
the natatores, whose name has been adopted as an 
appropriate term for all the corresponding groups. 
An enumeration of some other examples of the 
natatorial type, as the cephalopoda (instanced in 

* Distribution and Classification of Animals, p. 248. 


the cuttle-fish) in the mollusca; the Crustacea 
(crabs, &c.) in the annulosa ; the owls (which often 
duck for fish) in the raptores ; the ichthyosaurus, 
plesiosaurus, &c., among reptilia, will serve to 
bring the general character, and its pervasion of 
the whole animal world, forcibly before the mind 
of the reader. 

The next type is that of meanest and most im- 
perfect organization, the lower termination of all 
groups, as the typical is the upper. It is called 
by Mr. Swainson the suctorial, from a very gene- 
rally prevalent peculiarity, that of drawing sus- 
tenance by suction. The acrita, or polypes, among 
the sub-kingdoms ; the intestina, among the annu- 
losa ; the tortoises, among the reptilia ; the arma- 
dillo and scaly ant-eater, pig, mouse, jerboa, and 
kangaroo, among quadrupeds ; the waders and 
tenuirostres, among birds; the coleoptera, fbug, 
louse, flea, &:c.) among insects ; the gastrobranchus, 
among fishes ; are examples which wall illustrate 
the special characters of this type. These are 
smallness, particularly in the head and mouth, 
feebleness, and want of offensive protection, defect 
of organs of mastication, considerable powers of 
swift movement, and (often) a parasitic mode of 
living ; while of negative qualities, there are, be- 


sides, indisposition to domestication, and an un- 
suitableness to serve as human food. 

The rasorial type comprehends most of the 
animals which become domesticated and useful to 
man, as, first, the fowls which give a name to the 
type, the ungulata, and more particularly the 
ruminantia, among quadrupeds, and the dog among 
the ferae. Gentleness, familiarity with man, and 
a peculiar approach to human intelligence, are the 
leading mental characteristics of animals of this 
type. Amongst external characters, we generally 
find power of limbs and feet for locomotion on 
land, (to which the rasorial type is confined,) 
abundant tail and ornaments for the head, whether 
in the form of tufts, crests, horns, or bony excres- 
cences. In the animal kingdom, the mollusca are 
the rasorial type, which, however, only shews itself 
there in their soft and sluggish character, and their 
being very generally edible. In the ptilota, or 
winged insects, the hymenopterous are the rasorial 
type, and it is not therefore surprising to find 
amongst them the ants and bees, " the most social, 
intelligent, and in the latter case, most useful to 
man, of all the annulose animals." 

As yet the speculations on representation are 
imperfect, in consequence of the novelty of the 


doctrine, and the defective state of our knowledge 
of animated nature. It has, however, been so 
fully proved in the aves, and traced so clearly in 
other parts of the animal kingdom, and as a general 
feature of that part of nature, that hardly a doubt 
can exist of its being universally applicable. Even 
in the lowly forms of the acrita, (polypes,) the suc- 
torial type of the animal kingdom, representation 
has been discerned, and with some remarkable 
results as to the history of our world. The acrita 
were the first forms of animal life upon earth, the 
starting point of that great branch of organization. 
Now, this sub-kingdom consists, like the rest, of 
five groups, (classes,) and these are respectively 
representations of the acrita itself, and the other 
four sub-kingdoms, which had not come into exist- 
ence when the acrita were formed. The polypi 
vaginati, in the crustaceous covering of the living 
mass, and their more or less articulated structure, 
represent the annulosa. In the radiated forms of 
the rotifera, and the simple structure of the polypi 
rudes, we are reminded of the radiata. The mol- 
lusca are typified in the soft, mucous, sluggish 
intestina. And, finally, in the fleshy living mass 
which surrounds the bony and hollow axis of the 
polypi natantes, we have a sketch of the vertebrata. 
M 3 


The acrita thus appear as a prophecy of the higher 
events of animal development. They shew that 
the nobler orders of being, including man himself, 
were contemplated from the first, and came into 
existence by virtue of a law, the operation of which 
had commenced ages before their forms were 

The system of representation is therefore to be 
regarded as a powerful additional proof of the hypo- 
thesis of organic progress by virtue of law. It esta- 
blishes the unity of animated nature and the defi- 
nite character of its entire constitution. It enables 
us to see how, under the flowing robes of nature, 
where all looks arbitrary and accidental, there is 
an artificiality of the most rigid kind. The na- 
tural, we now perceive, sinks into and merges in a 
Higher Artificial. To adopt a comparison more apt 
than dignified, we may be said to be placed here 
as insects are in a garden of the old style. Our 
first unassisted view is limited, and we perceive 
only the irregularities of the minute surface, and 
single shrubs which appear arbitrarily scattered. 
But our view at length extending and becoming 
more comprehensive, we begin to see parterres 
balancing each other, trees, statues, and arbours 
placed symmetrically, and that the whole is an 


assemblage of parts mutually reflective. It can 
scarcely be necessary to point to the inference 
hence arising with regard to the origination of 
nature in some Power, of which man's mind is a 
faint and humble representation. The insects of 
the garden, supposing them to be invested with 
reasoning power, and aware how artificial are their 
own works, might of course very reasonably con- 
clude that, being in its totality an artificial object, 
the garden was the work of some maker or artificer. 
And so also must we conclude, when we attain 
a knowledge of the artificiality which is at the 
basis of nature, that nature is wholly the produc- 
tion of a Being resembling, but infinitely greater 
than ourselves. 

Organic beings are, then, bound together in de- 
velopment, and in a system of both affinities and 
analogies. Now, it will be asked, does this agree 
with what we know of the geographical distribu- 
tion of organic beings, and of the history of organic 
progress as delineated by geology ? Let us first 
advert to the geographical question. 

Plants, as is well known, require various kinds 
of soil, forms of geographical surface, climate, and 
other conditions, for their existence. And it is 
everywhere found that, however isolated a parti- 


cular spot may be with regard to these conditions, — 
as a mountain top in a torrid country, the marsh 
round a salt spring far inland, or an island placed 
far apart in the ocean, — appropriate plants have 
there taken up their abode. But the torrid zone 
divides the two temperate regions from each other 
by the space of more than forty-six degrees, and 
the torrid and temperate zones together form a 
much broader line of division between the two 
arctic regions. The Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, 
and the Persian Gulf, also divide the various por- 
tions of continent in the torrid and temperate 
zones from each other. Australia is also divided 
by a broad sea from the continent of Asia. Thus 
there are various portions of the earth sepa- 
rated from each other in such a way as to pre- 
clude anything like a general communication of 
the seeds of their respective plants towards each 
other. Hence arises an interesting question — Are 
the plants of the various isolated regions which 
enjoy a parity of climate and other conditions, 
identical or the reverse ? The answer is — that in 
such regions the vegetation bears a general resem- 
blance, but the species are nearly all different, and 
there is even, in a considerable measure, a diversity 
of families. 


The general facts have been thus stated : in the 
arctic and antarctic regions, and in those parts of 
lower latitudes, which, from their elevation, pos- 
sess the same cold climate, there is always a similar 
or analogous vegetation, but few species are com- 
mon to the various situations. In like manner, 
the intertropical vegetation of Asia, Africa, and 
America, are specifically diiferent, though gene- 
rally similar. The southern region of America is 
equally diverse from that of Africa, a country 
similar in clime, but separated by a vast extent of 
ocean. The vegetation of Australia, another re- 
gion similarly placed in respect of clime, is even 
more peculiar. These facts are the more remark- 
able when we discover that, in most instances, the 
plants of one region have thriven when transplanted 
to another of parallel clime. This would shew 
that parity of conditions does not lead to a parity 
of productions so exact as to include identity of 
species, or even genera. Besides the various iso- 
lated regions here enumerated, there are some 
others indicated by naturalists as exhibiting a ve- 
getation equally peculiar. Some of these are iso- 
lated by mountains, or the interposition of sandy 
wastes. For example, the temperate region of the 
elder continent is divided about the centre of 


Asia, and the east of that line is different from 
the west. So also is the same region divided in 
North America by the Rocky Mountains. Abys- 
sinia and Nubia constitute another distinct bota- 
nical region. De CandoUe enumerates in all 
twenty well-marked portions of the earth's surface 
which are peculiar with respect to vegetation ; a 
number which would be greatly increased if re- 
mote islands and isolated mountain ranges were to 
be included. 

When we come to the zoology, we find precisely 
similar results, excepting that man (with, perhaps, 
some of the less conspicuous forms of being) is 
universal, and that several tribes, as the bear and 
dog, appear to have passed by the land connexion 
from the arctic regions of the eastern to those of 
the western hemisphere. " With these exceptions," 
says Dr. Prichard, " and without any others, as 
far as zoological researches have yet gone, it may 
be asserted that no individual species are common 
to distant regions. In parallel climates, analogous 
species replace each other ; sometimes, but not fre- 
quently, the same genus is found in two separate 
continents ; but the species which are natives of 
one region are not identical with corresponding 
races indigenous in the opposite hemisphere. 


" A similar result arises when we compare the 
three great intertropical regions, as well as the 
extreme spaces of the three great continents, which 
advance into the temperate climates of the southern 

" Thus, the tribes of simiae, (monkeys,) of the 
dog and cat kinds, of pachyderms, including ele- 
phants, tapirs, rhinoceroses, hogs, of bats, of saurian 
and ophidian reptiles, as well of birds and other 
terrene animals, are all different in the three great 
continents. In the lower departments of the 
mammiferous family, we find that the bruta, or 
edendata, (sloths, armadillos, &c.,) of Africa, are 
differently organized from those of America, and 
these again from the tribes found in the Malayan 
archipelago and Terra Australis."* 

It does not appear that the diversity between 
the similar regions of Africa, Asia, and America, 
is occasioned in all instances by any disqualifi- 
cation of these countries to support precisely the 
same genera or species. The ox, horse, goat, &c., 
of the elder continent have thriven and extended 
themselves in the new, and many of the indigenous 
tribes of America would no doubt flourish in cor- 
responding climates in Europe, Asia, and Africa. 
* Researches, 4tli edition, i. 95. 


It has, however, been remarked by naturalists un- 
acquainted with the Macleay system, that the 
larger and more powerful animals of their re- 
spective orders belong to the elder continent, and 
that thus the animals of America, unlike the fea- 
tures of inanimate nature, appear to be upon a 
small scale. The swiftest and most agile animals, 
and a large proportion of those most useful to 
man, are also natives of the elder continent. On 
the other hand, the bulk of the edentata, a group 
remarkable for defects and rrieanness of organi- 
zation, are American. The zoology of America 
may be said, upon the whole, to recede from that 
of Asia, " and perhaps in a greater degree," adds 
Dr. Prichard, "from that of Africa." A much 
greater recession is, however, observed in both the 
botany and zoology of Australia. 

There " we do not find, in the great masses of 
vegetation, eith-er the majesty of the virgin forests 
of America, or the variety and elegance of those 
of Asia, or the delicacy and freshness of the woods 
of our temperate countries of Europe. The vege- 
tation is generally gloomy and sad ; it has the 
aspect of our evergreens or heaths ; the plants 
are for the most part woody ; the leaves of nearly 
all the plants are linear, lanceolated, small, coria- 


ceous, and spinescent. The grasses, which else- 
where are generally soft and flexible, participate in 
the stiffness of the other vegetables. The greater 
part of the plants of New Holland belong to new 
genera; and those included in the genera already 
known are of new species. The natural families 
which prevail are those of the heaths, the proteae, 
compositae, leguminosae, and myrthoideae ; the 
larger trees all belong to the last family."* 

The prevalent animals of Australia are not less 
peculiar. It is well known that none above the 
marsupialia, or pouched animals, are native to it. 
The most conspicuous are these marsupials, which 
exist in great varieties here, though unknown in 
the elder continent, and only found in a few mean 
forms in America. Next to them are the mono- 
tremata, which are entirely peculiar to this portion 
of the earth. Now these are animals at the bottom 
of the mammiferous class, adjoining to that of birds, 
of whose character and organization the monotre- 
mata largely partake, the ornithorynchus present- 
ing the bill and feet of a duck, producing its young 
in eggs, and having, like birds, a clavicle between 
the two shoulders. The birds of Australia vary 
in structure and plumage, but all have some singu- 
* Prichard. 


laritj about them — the swan, for instance, is black. 
The country abounds in reptiles, and the prevalent 
fishes are of the early kinds, having a cartilaginous 

Altogether, the plants and animals of this minor 
continent convey the impression of an early system 
of things, such as might be displayed in other parts 
of the earth about the time of the oolite. In con- 
nexion v^ith this circumstance, it is a fact of some 
importance, that the geognostic character of Aus- 
tralia, its vast arid plains, its little diversified sur- 
face and consequent paucity of streams, and the 
very slight development of volcanic rock on its 
surface, seem to indicate a system of physical con- 
ditions, such as we may suppose to have existed 
elsewhere in the oolitic era : perhaps we see the 
chalk formation preparing there in the vast coral 
beds frontiering the coast. Australia thus appears 
as a portion of the earth which has, from some 
unknown causes, been belated in its physical and 
organic development. And certainly the greater 
part of its surface is not fitted to be an advantageous 
place of residence for beings above the marsupialia, 
and judging from analogy, it may yet be subjected 
to a series of changes in the highest degree incon- 


venient to any human beings who may have settled 
upon it. 

The general conclusions regarding the geo- 
graphy of organic nature, may be thus stated. 
(1.) There are numerous distinct foci of organic 
production throughout the earth. (2.) These have 
everywhere advanced in accordance with the local 
conditions of climate &c., as far as at least the class 
and order are concerned, a diversity taking place 
in the lower gradations. No physical or geogra- 
phical reason appearing for this diversity, we are 
led to infer that, (3,) it is the result of minute and 
inappreciable causes giving the law of organic de- 
velopment a particular direction in the lower sub- 
divisions of the two kingdoms. (4.) Development 
has not gone on to equal results in the various con- 
tinents, being most advanced in the eastern conti- 
nent, next in the western, and least in Australia, 
this inequality being perhaps the result of the 
comparative antiquity of the various regions, geolo- 
gically and geographically. 

It must at the same time be admitted that the 
line of organic development has nowhere required 
for its advance the whole of the families compre- 
hended in the two kingdoms, seeing that some of 


these are confined to one continent, and some to 
another, without a conceivable possibility of one 
having been connected with the other in the way 
of ancestry. The two great families of quadru- 
mana, cebidse and simiadae, are a noted instance, 
the one being exclusively American, while the 
other belongs entirely to the old world. There 
are many other cases in which the full circular 
group can only be completed by taking subdivi- 
sions from various continents. This would seem 
to imply that, while the entire system is so remark- 
able for its unity, it has nevertheless been pro- 
duced in lines geographically detached, these lines 
perhaps consisting of particular typical groups 
placed in an independent succession, or of two or 
more of these groups. And for this idea there is, 
even in the present imperfect state of our know- 
ledge of animated nature, some countenance in 
ascertained facts, the birds of Australia, for ex- 
ample, being chiefly of the suctorial type, while it 
may be presumed that the observation as to the 
predominance of the useful animals in the Old 
World, is not much different from saying that the 
rasorial type is there peculiarly abundant. It 
does not appear that the idea of independent lines, 
consisting of particular types, or sets of types, is 


necessarily inconsistent with the general hypo- 
thesis, as nothing yet ascertained of the Macleay 
system forbids their having an independent set of 
affinities. On this subject, however, there is as yet 
much obscurity, and it must be left to future in- 
quirers to clear it up. 

We must now call to mind that the geographical 
distribution of plants and animals was very different 
in the geological ages from what it is now. Down 
to a time not long antecedent to man, the same 
vegetation overspread every clime, and a similar 
uniformity marked the zoology. This is conceived 
by M. Brogniart, with great plausibility, to have 
been the result of a uniformity of climate, pro- 
duced by the as yet unexhausted effect of the in- 
ternal heat of the earth upon its surface; whereas 
climate has since depended chiefly on external 
sources of heat, as modified by the various meteoro- 
logical influences. However the early uniform 
climate was produced, certain it is that, from about 
the close of the geological epoch, plants and ani- 
mals have been dispersed over the globe with a 
regard to their particular characters, and specimens 
of both are found so isolated in particular situa- 
tions, as utterly to exclude the idea that they came 
thither from any common centre. It may be 


asked, — Considering that, in the geological epoch, 
species are not limited to particular regions, and 
that since the close of that epoch, they are very 
peculiarly limited, are we to presume the present 
organisms of the world to have been created ah initio 
after that time ? To this it may be answered, — Not 
necessarily, as it so happens that animals begin to be 
much varied, or to appear in a considerable variety 
of species, towards the close of the geological his- 
tory. It may have been that the multitudes of 
locally peculiar species only came into being after 
the uniform climate had passed away. It may 
have only been when a varied climate arose, that 
the originally few species branched off into the 
present extensive variety. 

A question of a very interesting kind will now 
probably arise in the reader's mind — What place 
or status is assigned to man in the new natural 
system? Before going into this inquiry, it is ne- 
cessary to advert to several particulars of the 
natural system not yet noticed. 

It is necessary, in particular, to ascertain the 
grades which exist in the classification of animals. 
In the line of the aves, Mr. Swainson finds these 
to be nine, the species, pica, for example, being 
thus indicated : — 


Kingdom Animalia. 

Sub-kingdom .... Vertebrata. 

Class Aves. 

Order Incessores. 

Tribe Conirostres. 

Family Corvidse. 

Sub-family Corvings. 

Genus Corvus. 

Sub-genus, or species . Pica. 

This brings us down to species, the subdivision 
where intermarriage or breeding is usually con- 
sidered as natural to animals, and where a resem- 
blance of offspring to parents is generally perse- 
vered in. The dog, for instance, is a species, 
because all dogs can breed together, and the pro- 
geny partakes of the appearances of the parents. 
The human race is held as a species, primarily for 
the same reasons. Species, however, is liable to 
another subdivision, which naturalists call variety ; 
and variety appears to be subject to exactly the 
same system of representation which have been 
traced in species and higher denominations. In 
canis, for instance, the bull-dog and mastiff repre- 
sent the ferocious sub-typical group; the water- 
dog is natatorial ; we see the speed and length of 
muzzle of the suctorial group in the greyhound; 
and the bushy tail and gentle and serviceable cha- 
racter of the rasorial in the shepherd's dog and 


spaniel. Even the striped and spotted skin of the 
tiger and panther is reproduced in the more fero- 
cious kind of dogs — an indication of a fundamental 
connexion between physical and mental qualities 
which we have also seen in the zebra, and which 
is likewise displayed in the predominance of a 
yellow colour in the vultures and owls in common 
with the lion and his congeners. 

It is by no means clearly made out that this 
system of nine gradations over and above that of 
variety applies in all departments of nature. On 
the contrary, even Mr. Swainson gives series in 
which several of them are omitted. It may be 
that, in some departments of nature, variation from 
the class or order has gone down into fewer shades 
than in others ; or it may be, that many of the 
variations have not survived till our era, or have 
not been as yet detected by naturalists ; in either 
of which cases there may be a necessity for short- 
ening the series by the omission of one or two 
grades, as for instance tribe or sub-family. This, 
however, is much to be regretted, as it introduces 
an irregularity into the natural system, and conse- 
quently throws a difficulty and doubt in the way 
of our investigating it. With these preliminary 


remarks, I shall proceed to inquire what is the 
natural status of man. 

That man's place is to be looked for in the class 
mammalia and sub-kingdom vertebrata admits of 
no doubt, from his possessing both the characters 
on which these divisions are founded. When we 
descend, however, below the class, we find no 
settled views on the subject amongst naturalists. 
Mr. Swainson, who alone has given a review of 
the animal kingdom on the Macleay system, un- 
fortunately writes on this subject in a manner 
which excites a suspicion as to his judgment. His 
arrangement of the first or typical order of the 
mammalia is therefore to be received with great 
hesitation. It is as follows : — 

Typical . Quadrumana Pre-emiuently organized for grasping. 

Sub-typical Ferse . . Claws retractile ; carnivorous. 

Natatorial Cetacea . . Pre-eminently aquatic ; feet very short. 

Suctorial . Glires . . Muzzle lengthened and pointed. 

Rasorial . Ungulata . Crests and other processes on the head. 

He then takes the quadrumana, and places it 
in the following arrangement : — 

Typical . . 

Simiadae . . (Monkeys of Old World.) 

Sub-typical . 

Cebidse . . (Monkeys of New World.) 

Natatorial . 


Suctorial . . 

VespertilionidsB (Bats.) 

Rasorial . . 

, Lemuridse . (Lemurs.) 


He considers the simiadae as a complete circle, 
and argues thence that there is no roomi n the 
range of the animal kingdom for man. Man, he 
says, is not a constituent part of any circle, for, if 
he were, there ought to be other animals on each 
hand having affinity to him, whereas there are 
none, the resemblance of the orangs being one of 
mere analogy. Mr. Swainson therefore considers 
our race as standing apart, and forming a link be- 
tween the unintelligent order of beings and the 
angels ! And this in spite of the glaring fact that, 
in our teeth, hands, and other features grounded 
on by naturalists as characteristic, we do not differ 
more from the simiadse than the bats do from the 
lemurs — in spite also of that resemblance of ana- 
logy to the orangs which he himself admits, and 
which, at the least, must be held to imply a certain 
relation. He also overlooks that, though there 
may be no room for man in the circle of the 
simiadae, (this, indeed, is quite true,) there maybe 
in the order, where he actually leaves a place en- 
tirely blank, or only to be filled up, as he suggests, 
by mermen !* Another argument in his arrange- 

* Mr. Swainson's arguments about the entireness of the circle 
simiadae are only too rigid, for fossil geology has since added new 
genera to this group and the cebidae, and there may be still far- 
ther additions. 


merit is, that it leaves the grades of classification 
very much abridged, there being at the most 
seven instead of nine. But serious argument on 
a theory so preposterous may be considered as 
nearly thrown away. I shall therefore at once 
proceed to suggest a new arrangement of this por- 
tion of the animal kingdom, in which man is 
allowed the place to which he is zoologically 

I propose that the typical order of the mammalia 
should be designated cheirotheria, from the sole 
character which is universal amongst them, their 
possessing hands, and with a regard to that pre- 
eminent qualification for grasping which has been 
ascribed to them — an analogy to the perching 
habit of the typical order of birds, which is worthy 
of particular notice. The tribes of the cheirotheria 
I arrange as follows : — 

Typical Bimana. 

Sub-typical Simiadae. 

Natatorial Vespertilionidae. 

Suctorial Lemuridse. 

Rasorial Cebidae. 

Here man is put into the typical place, as the 
genuine head, not only of this order, but of the 
whole animal world. The double affinity which 
is requisite is obtained, for here he has the simiadas 
N 2 


on one hand, and the cebidae on the other. The 
five tribes of the order are completed, the vesper- 
tilionidae being shifted (provisionally) into the nata- 
torial place, for which their appropriateness is so 
far evidenced by the aquatic habits of several of 
the tribe, and the lemuridae into the suctorial, to 
v^^hich their length of muzzle and remarkable 
saltatory power are highly suitable. At the same 
time, the simiadae are degraded from the typical 
place, to which they have no sort of pretension, 
and placed where their mean and mischievous 
character seem to require ; the cebidae again being 
assigned that situation which their comparatively 
inoffensive dispositions, their arboreal habits, and 
their extraordinary development of the tail, (which 
with them is like a fifth hand,) render so proper. 

The zoological status thus assigned to the human 
race is precisely what might be expected. In order 
to understand its fall value, it is necessary to ob- 
serve how the various type peculiarities operate in 
fixing the character of the animals ranked in them. 
It is easy to conceive that they must be, in some 
instances, much mixed up with each other, and 
consequently obscured. If an animal, for example, 
is the suctorial member of a circle of species, 
forming the natatorial type of genera, forming a 


family or sub-family which in its turn is rasorial, 
its quahties must evidently be greatly mingled and 
ill to define. But, on the other hand, if we take the 
rapacious or sub-typical group of birds, and look 
in it for the tribe which is again the rapacious 
or sub-typical group of its order, we may expect 
to find the qualities of that group exalted or 
intensified, and accordingly made the more con- 
spicuous. Such is really the case with the vul- 
tures, in the rapacious birds, a family remark- 
able above all of their order for their carnivorous 
and foul habits. So, also, if we take the typi- 
cal group of the birds, the incessores or perchers, 
and look in it for its typical group, the conirostres, 
and seek there again for the typical family of that 
group, the corvidse, we may expect to find a 
very marked superiority in organization and cha- 
racter. Such is really the case. "The crow," 
says Mr. Swainson, " unites in itself a greater num- 
ber of properties than are to be found individually 
in any other genus of birds ; as if in fact it had 
taken from all the other orders a portion of their 
peculiar qualities, for the purpose of exhibiting in 
what manner they could be combined. From the 
rapacious birds this " type of types," as the crow 
has been justly called, takes the power of soaring 


in the air, and of seizing upon living birds, like 
the hawks, while its habit of devouring putrid 
substances, and picking out the eyes of young 
animals, is borrowed from the vultures. From the 
scansorial or climbing order it takes the faculty of 
picking the ground, and discovering its food when 
hidden from the eye, while the parrot family gives 
it the taste for vegetable food, and furnishes it 
with great cunning, sagacity, and powers of imita- 
tion, even to counterfeiting the human voice. 
Next come the order of waders, who impart their 
quota to the perfection of the crow by giving it 
great powers of flight, and perfect facility in 
walking, such being among the chief attributes of 
the suctorial order. Lastly, the aquatic birds con- 
tribute their portion, by giving this terrestrial bird 
the power of feeding not only on fish, which are 
their peculiar food, but actually of occasionally 
catching it.* In this wonderful manner do we find 
the crow partially invested with the united pro- 
perties of all other birds, while in its own order, 
that of the incessores or perchers, it stands the 
pre-eminent type. We cannot also fail to regard it 
as a remarkable proof of the superior organization 
and character of the corvidae, that they are adapted 
* See Wilson's American Ornithology ; article, Fishing Crow. 


for all climates, and accordingly found all over the 

3Ir. Swainson's description of the zoological 
status of the crow, written without the least design 
of throwing any light upon that of man, evidently 
does so in a remarkable degree. It prepares us to 
expect in the place among the mammalia, corre- 
sponding to that of the corvidae in the aves, a 
being or set of beings possessing a remarkable con- 
centration of qualities from all the other groups of 
their order, but in general character as far above 
the corvidae as a typical group is above an aberrant 
one, the mammalia above the aves. Can any of 
the simiadse pretend to such a place, narrowly and 
imperfectly endowed as these creatures are — a mean 
reflection apparently of something higher ? As- 
suredly not, and in this consideration alone Mr. 
Swainson's arrangement must fall to the ground. 
To fill worthily so lofty a station in the animated 
families man alone is competent. In him only is 
to be found that concentration of qualities from all 
the other groups of his order which has been de- 
scribed as marking the corvidae. That grasping 
power, which has been selected as the leading 
physical quality of his order, is nowhere so beauti- 
fully or so powerfully developed as in his hand. 


The intelligence and teachableness of the simiadas 
rise to a climax in his pre-eminent mental nature. 
His sub-analogy to the ferae is marked by his 
canine teeth, and the universality of his rapacity, for 
where is the department of animated nature which 
he does not without scruple sacrifice to his conve- 
nience ? With sanguinary, he has also gentle and 
domesticable dispositions, thus reflecting the cha- 
racters of the ungulata, (the rasorial type of the 
class,) to which we perhaps see a further analogy 
in the use which he makes of the surface of the 
earth as a source of food. To the aquatic type his 
love of maritime adventure very readily assimilates 
him ; and how far the suctorial is represented in 
his nature it is hardly necessary to say. As the 
corvidae, too, are found in every part of the earth 
— almost the only one of the inferior animals which 
has been acknowledged as universal — so do we find 
man. He thrives in all climates, and with regard 
to style of living, can adapt himself to an infinitely 
greater diversity of circumstances than any other 
animated creature. 

Man, then, considered zoologically, and without 
regard to the distinct character assigned to him by 
theology, simply takes his place as the type of all 
types of the animal kingdom, the true and unmis- 


takable head of animated nature upon this earth. 
It will readily occur that some more particular 
investigations into the ranks of types might throw 
additional light on man's status, and perhaps his 
nature ; and such light we may hope to obtain 
when the philosophy of zoology shall have been 
studied as it deserves. Perhaps some such dia- 
gram as the one given on the next page will be 
found to be an approximation to the expression of 
the merely natural or secular grade of man in com- 
parison with other animals. 

N 3 



/ / 
/ / 

2. 3. 4 



Here the upright lines, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, may repre- 
sent the comparative height and grade of organiza- 
tion of both the five sub-kingdoms, and the five 
classes of each of these ; 5 being the vertebrata in 
the one case, and the mammalia in the other. The 
difference between the height of the line 1 and the 
line 5 gives an idea of the difference of being the 
head type of the aves, (corvidae,) and the head type 
of the mammalia, (bimana ;) a. h. c, d. 5, again, re- 
present the five groups of the first order of the 
mammalia; a, being the organic structure of the 
highest simia, and 5, that of man. A set of tan- 
gent lines of this kind may yet prove one of the 
most satisfactory means of ascertaining the height 
and breadth of the psychology of our species. 

It may be asked, — Is the existing human race 
the only species designed to occupy the grade to 
which it is here referred? Such a question 
evidently ought not to be answered rashly ; and I 
shall therefore confine myself to the admission 
that, judging by analogy, we might expect to see 
several varieties of the being, homo. There is no 
other family approaching to this in importance, 
which presents but one species. The corvidae, 
our parallel in aves, consist of several distinct 
genera and sub-genera. It is startling to find such 


an appearance of imperfection in the circle to 
which man belongs, and the ideas which rise in 
consequence are not less startling. Is our race 
but the initial of the grand crowning type ? Are 
there yet to be species superior to us in organiza- 
tion, purer in feeling, more powerful in device 
and act, and who shall take a rule over us ! There 
is in this nothing improbable on other grounds. 
The present race, rude and impulsive as it is, is 
perhaps the best adapted to the present state of 
things in the world ; but the external world goes 
through slow and gradual changes, which may 
leave it in time a much serener field of existence. 
There may then be occasion for a nobler type of 
humanity, which shall complete the zoological 
circle on this planet, and realize some of the dreams 
of the purest spirits of the present race. 



The human race is known to consist of numerous 
nations, displaying considerable differences of ex- 
ternal form and colour, and speaking in general 
different languages. This has been the case since 
the commencement of written record. It is also 
ascertained that the external peculiarities of par- 
ticular nations do not rapidly change. There is 
rather a tendency to a persistency of type in all 
lines of descent, insomuch that a subordinate ad- 
mixture of various type is usually obliterated in a 
few generations. Numerous as the varieties are, 
they have all been found classifiable under five 
leading ones : — 1. The Caucasian, or Indo- 
European, which extends from India into Europe 
and Northern Africa ; 2. The Mongolian, which 
occupies Northern and Eastern Asia; 3. The 


Malayan, which extends from the Ultra-Gangetic 
Penmsula into the numerous islands of the South 
Sea and Pacific ; 4, The Negro, chiefly confined 
to Africa; 5. The aboriginal American. Each 
of these is distinguished^ by certain general features 
of so marked a kind, as to give rise to a supposi- 
tion that they have had distinct or independent 
origins. Of these peculiarities, colour is the most 
conspicuous : the Caucasians are generally white, 
the Mongolians yellow, the Negroes black, and 
the Americans red. The opposition of two of 
these in particular, white and black, is so striking, 
that of them, at least, it seems almost necessary to 
suppose separate origins. Of late years, however, 
the whole of this question has been subjected to a 
rigorous investigation, and it has been successfully 
shewn that the human race might have had one 
origin, for anything that can be inferred from ex- 
ternal peculiarities. 

It appears from this inquiry,* that colour and 
other physiological characters are of a more super- 
ficial and accidental nature than was at one time 
supposed. One fact is at the very first extremely 
startling, that there are nations, such as the inha- 

* See Dr. Pilchard's Researches into the Physical History of 


bitants of Hindostan, known to be one in descent, 
which nevertheless contain groups of people of 
almost all shades of colour, and likewise discrepant 
in other of those important features on which much 
stress has been laid. Some other facts, which I 
may state in brief terms, are scarcely less remark- 
able. In Africa, there are Negro nations, — that 
is, nations of intensely black complexion, as the 
Jolofs, Mandingoes, and Kafirs, whose features 
and limbs are as elegant as those of the best 
European nations. While we have no proof of 
Negro races becoming white in the course of 
generations, the converse may be held as esta- 
blished, for there are Arab and Jewish families of 
ancient settlement in Northern Africa, who have 
become as black as the other inhabitants. There 
are also facts which seem to shew the possibility 
of a natural transition by generation from the 
black to the white complexion, and from the white 
to the black. True whites (apart from Albinoes) 
are not unfrequently born among the Negroes, 
and the tendency to this singularity is transmitted 
in families. There is, at least, one authentic in- 
stance of a set of perfectly black children being 
born to an Arab couple, in whose ancestry no 
such blood had intermingled. This occurred in 


the valley of the Jordan, where it is remarkable 
that the Arab population in general have flatter 
features, darker skins, and coarser hair, than any 
other tribes of the same nation.* 

The style of living is ascertained to have a 
powerful effect in modifying the human figure in 
the course of generations, and this even in its 
osseous structure. About two hundred years ago, 
a number of people were driven by a barbarous 
policy fi:om the counties of Antrim and Down, in 
Ireland, towards the sea-coast, where they have 
ever since been settled, but in unusually miserable 
circumstances, even for Ireland; and the con- 
sequence is, that they exhibit peculiar features of 
the most repulsive kind, projecting jaws with large 
open mouths, depressed noses, high cheek bones, 
and bow legs, together with an extremely diminu- 
tive stature. These, with an abnormal slender- 
ness of the limbs, are the outward marks of a low 
and barbarous condition all over the world ; it is 
particularly seen in the Australian aborigines. 
On the other hand, the beauty of the higher ranks 
in England is very remarkable, being, in the main, 

* Buckingham's Travels among the Arabs. This fact is the 
more valuable to the argument, as having been set down with no 
regard to any kind of hypothesis. 


as clearly a result of good external conditions. 
*' Coarse, unwholesome, and ill-prepared food," 
says BufFon, " makes the human race degenerate. 
All those people who live miserably are ugly and 
ill-made. Even in France, the country people 
are not so beautiful as those who live in towns; 
and I have often remarked that in those villages 
where the people are richer and better fed than in 
others, the men are likewise more handsome, and 
have better countenances." He might have added, 
that elegant and commodious dwellings, cleanly 
habits, comfortable clothing, and being exposed to 
the open air only as much as health requires, co- 
operate with food in increasing the elegance of a 
race of human beings. 

Subject only to these modifying agencies, there 
is, as has been said, a remarkable persistency in 
national features and forms, insomuch that a single 
individual thrown into a family different from him- 
self is absorbed in it, and all trace of him lost after 
a few generations. But while there is such a per- 
sistency to ordinary observation, it would also 
appear that nature has a power of producing new 
varieties, though this is only done rarely. Such 
novelties of type abound in the vegetable world, 
are seen more rarely in the animal circle, and 


perhaps are least frequent of occurrence in our 
own race. There is a noted instance in the pro- 
duction, on a New England farm, of a variety of 
sheep with unusually short legs, which was kept 
up by breeding, on account of the convenience in 
that country of having sheep which are unable to 
jump over low fences. The starting and main- 
taining a bj^eed of cattle, that is, a variety marked 
by some desirable peculiarity, are familiar to a 
large class of persons. It appears only necessary, 
when a variety has been thus produced, that a 
union should take place between individuals simi- 
larly characterized, in order to establish it. Early 
in the last century, a man named Lambert, was 
born in Suffolk, with semi-horny excrescences of 
about half an inch long, thickly growing all over 
his body. The peculiarity was transmitted to his 
children, and was last heard of in a third genera- 
tion. The peculiarity of six fingers on the hand 
and six toes on the feet, appears in like manner in 
families which have no record or tradition of such 
a peculiarity having affected them at any former 
period, and it is then sometimes seen to descend 
through several generations. It was Mr. Law- 
rence's opinion, that a . pair, in which both parties 
were so distinguished, might be the progenitors of 


a new variety of the race who would be thus 
marked in all future time. It is not easy to sur- 
mise the causes which operate in producing such 
varieties. Perhaps they are simply types in na- 
ture, possible to be realized under certain appropriate 
conditions, but which conditions are such as alto- 
gether to elude notice. I might cite as examples 
of such possible types, the rise of whites amongst 
the Negroes, the occurrence of the family of black 
children in the valley of the Jordan, and the com- 
paratively frequent birth of red-haired children 
amongst not only the Mongolian and Malayan 
families, but amongst the Negroes. We are igno- 
rant of the laws of variety-production; but we 
see it going on as a principle in nature, and it is 
obviously favourable to the supposition that all the 
great families of men are of one stock. 

The tendency of the modern study of the lan- 
guages of nations is to the same point. The last 
fifty years have seen this study elevated to the 
character of a science, and the light which it 
throws upon the history of mankind is of. a most 
remarkable nature. 

Following a natural analogy, philologists have 

thrown the earth's lano;uao[;es into a kind of classi- 
cs o 

fication : a number bearing a considerable resem- 


blance to each other, and in general geographically 
near, are styled a group or sub-family; several 
groups, again, are associated as 2i family, with regard 
to more general features of resemblance. Six 
families are spoken of. 

The Indo-European family nearly coincides in 
geographical limits with those which have been 
assigned to that variety of mankind which gene- 
rally shews a fair complexion, called the Caucasian 
variety. It may be said to commence in India, 
and thence to stretch through Persia into Europe, 
the v^^hole of which it occupies, excepting Hun- 
gary, the Basque provinces of Spain, and Finland. 
Its sub-families are the Sanskrit, or ancient lan- 
guage of India, the Persian, the Slavonic, Celtic, 
Gothic, and Pelasgian. The Slavonic includes 
the modern languages of Russia and Poland. 
Under the Gothic, are (Ij the Scandinavian tongues, 
the Norske, Swedish, and Danish; and (2) the 
Teutonic, to which belong the modern German, 
the Dutch, and our own Anglo-Saxon. I give 
the name of Pelasgian to the group scattered 
along the north shores of the Mediterranean, the 
Greek and Latin, including the modifications of 
the latter under the names of Italian, Spanish, &;c. 
The Celtic was from two to three thousand years 


ago, the speech of a considerable tribe dwelUng in 
Western Europe ; but these have since been 
driven before superior nations into a few corners, 
and are now only to be found in the highlands of 
Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, and certain 
parts of France. The Gaelic of Scotland, Erse of 
Ireland, and the Welsh, are the only living 
branches of this sub-family of languages. 

The resemblances amongst languages are of two 
kinds, — identity of words, and identity of gramma- 
tical forms; the latter being now generally consi- 
dered as the most important towards the argument. 
When we inquire into the first kind of affinity 
among the languages of the Indo-European family, 
we are surprised at the great number of common 
terms which exist amongst them, and these referring 
to such primary ideas, as to leave no doubt of their 
having all been derived from a common source. 
Colonel Vans Kennedy presents nine hundred 
words common to the Sanskrit and other lan- 
guages of the same family. In the Sanskrit and 
Persian, we find several which require no sort of 
translation to an English reader, as pader, mader, 
stmu, dokhter, hrader, mand, vidhava; likewise 
asthii a bone, (Greek, ostoun ;) denta, a tooth, 
(Latin, dens, dentis ;) eyenmen, the eye ; brouwa. 


the eye-brow, (German, hraue ;) nasa, the nose; 
karu^ the hand, (Gr. cheir ;) genu, the knee, (Lat. 
genu;) yed, the foot, (Lat. yes, jyedis -^ hrti, the 
heart ; jecur, the liver, (Lat. jecur ;) stara, a star ; 
gela, cold, (Lat. gelu, ice ;) aghni, fire, (Lat. ignis ;) 
dhara, the earth, (Lat. teri^a, Gaelic, tir;) arrivi, 
a river ; nau, a ship, (Gr. naus, Lat. navis ;) ghau, 
a cow ; sarpam, a serpent. 

The inferences from these verbal coincidences 
were confirmed in a striking manner when Bopp 
and others investigated the grammatical structure 
of this family of languages. Dr. Wiseman pro- 
nounces that the great philologist just named, " by 
a minute and sagacious analysis of the Sanskrit 
verb, compared with the conjugational system of 
the other members of this family, left no doubt of 
their intimate and positive affinity." It was now^ 
discovered that the peculiar terminations or in- 
flections by which persons are expressed throughout 
the verbs of nearly the whole of these languages, 
have their foundations in pronouns ; the pronoun 
was simply placed at the end, and thus became an 
inflexion. " By an analysis of the Sanskrit pro- 
nouns, the elements of those existing in all the 
other languages were cleared of their anomalies ; 
the verb substantive, which in Latin is composed 


of fragments referable to two distinct roots, here 
found both existing in regular form; the Greek 
conjugations, with all their complicated machinery 
of middle voice, augments, and reduplications, were 
here found and illustrated in a variet^^of ways, which 
a few years ago would have appeared chimerical. 
Even our own language may sometimes receive 
light from the study of distant members of our 
family. Where, for instance, are we to seek for 
the root of our comparative better ? Certainly not 
in its positive, good, nor in the Teutonic dialects 
in which the same anomaly exists. But in the 
Persian we have precisely the same comparative, 
behter, with exactly the same signification, regu- 
larly formed from its positive beh, good."* 

* Wiseman's Lectures on the Connexion between Science and 
Revealed Religion, i. 44. The Celtic has been established as a 
member or group of the Indo-European family, by the work of 
Dr. Prichard, on the Eastern Origin of the Celtic Nations. " First," 
says Dr. Wiseman, " he has examined the lexical resemblances, 
and shewn that the primary and most simple words are the same 
in both, as well as the numerals and elementary verbal roots. 
Then follows a minute analysis of the verb, directed to shew its 
analogies with other languages, and they are such as manifest no 
casual coincidence, but an internal structure radically the same. 
The verb substantive, which is minutely analysed, presents more 
striking analogies to the Persian verb than perhaps any other 
language of the family. But Celtic is not thus become a mere 


The second great family is the Syro-Phcenician, 
comprising the Hebrew, Syro-Chaldaic, Arabic, 
and Gheez or Abyssinian, being localized princi- 
pally in the countries to the west and south of the 
Mediterranean. Beyond them, again, is the African 
family, which, as far as research has gone, seems to 
be in like manner marked by common features, 
both verbal and grammatical. The fourth is the 
Polynesian family, extending from Madagascar on 
the west through all the Indian Archipelago, be- 
sides taking in the Malayan dialect from the conti- 
nent of India, and comprehending Australia and 
the islands of the western portion of the Pacific. 
This family, however, bears such an affinity to 
that next to be described, that Dr. Leyden and 
some others do not give it a distinct place as a 
family of languages. 

member of this confederacy, but has brought to it most important 
aid ; for, from it alone can be satisfactorily explained some of the 
conjugational endings in the other languages. For instance, the 
third person plural of the Latin, Persian, Greek, and Sanscrit 
ends in nt, nd, vti, vto, nti, or nt. Now, supposing, with most 
grammarians, that the inflexions arose from the pronouns of the 
respective persons, it is only in Celtic that we find a pronoun 
that can explain this termination ; for there, too, the same person 
ends in nt, and thus corresponds exactly, as do the others, with 
its pronoun, hwynt, or ynC^ 


The fifth family is the Chinese, embracing a 
large part of China, and most of the regions of 
Central and Northern Asia. The leading features 
of the Chinese are, its consisting altogether of mo- 
nosyllables, and being destitute of all grammatical 
forms, except certain arrangements and accentua- 
tions, which vary the sense of particular words. 
It is also deficient in some of the consonants most 
conspicuous in other languages, b, d, r, v, and z ; 
so that this people can scarcely pronounce our 
speech in such a way as to be intelligible : for 
example, the word Christus they call Kuliss-ut-oo- 
suh. The Chinese, strange to say, though they 
early attained to a remarkable degree of civiliza- 
tion, and have preceded the Europeans in many of 
the most important inventions, have a language 
which resembles that of children, or deaf and dumb 
people. The sentence of short, simple, uncon- 
nected words, in which an infant amongst us 
attempts to express some of its wants and its 
ideas — the equally broken and difficult terms 
which the deaf and dumb express by signs, as the 
following passage of the Lord's Prayer : — " Our 
Father, heaven in, wish your name respect, wish 
your soul's kingdom providence arrive, wish your 
will do heaven earth equality," &c. — these are 


like the discourse of the refined people of the so- 
called Celestial Empire. An attempt was made 
by the Abbe Sicard to teach the deaf and dumb 
grammatical signs ; but they persisted in restricting 
themselves to the simple signs of ideas, leaving the 
structure undetermined by any but the natural 
order of connexion. Such is exactly the condition 
of the Chinese language. 

Crossing the Pacific, we come to the last great 
family in the languages of the aboriginal Ame- 
ricans, which have all of them features in common, 
proving them to constitute a group by themselves, 
without any regard to the very different degrees of 
civilization which these nations had attained at the 
time of the discovery. The common resemblance 
is in the grammatical structure as well as in 
words, and the grammatical structure of this family 
is of a very peculiar and complicated kind. The 
general character in this respect has caused the 
term Polysynthetic to be applied to the American 
languages. A long many-syllabled word is used 
by the rude Algonquins and Delawares to express 
a whole sentence ; for example, a woman of the 
latter nation, playing with a little dog or cat, 
would perhaps be heard saying, ^' kuligatschis,^^ 
meaning, "give me your pretty little paw;" the 


word, on examination, is found to be made up in 
this manner : k, the second personal pronoun ; uli, 
part of the word wulet, pretty ; gat, part of the word 
wichgat, signifying a leg or paw ; schis, conveying 
the idea of littleness. In the same tongue, a youth 
is called pilape, a word compounded from the 
first part of pilsit, innocent, and the latter part of 
lenape, a man. Thus, it will be observed, a 
number of parts of words are taken and thrown 
together, by a process which has been happily 
termed agglutination, so as to form one word, con- 
veying a complicated idea. There is also an ela- 
borate system of inflection ; in nouns, for instance, 
there is one kind of inflection to express the pre- 
sence or absence of vitality, and another to ex- 
press number. The genius of the language has 
been described as accumulative : it " tends rather 
to add syllables or letters, making farther dis- 
tinctions in objects already before the mind, 
than to introduce new words."* Yet it has also 
been shewn very distinctly, that these languages 
are based in words of one syllable, like those of 
the Chinese and Polynesian families; all the 
primary ideas are thus expressed : the elaborate 
system of inflection and agglutination is shewn to 
* Schoolcraft. 



be simply a farther development of the language- 
forming principle, as it may be called — or the 
Chinese system may be described as an arrestment 
of this principle at a particular early point. It 
has been fiilly shewn, that between the structure 
of the American and other families, sufficient 
affinities exist to make a common origin or early 
connexion extremely likely. The verbal affinities 
are also very considerable. Humboldt says, " In 
eighty-three American languages examined by 
Messrs. Barton and Vater, one hundred and 
seventy words have been found, the roots of which 
appear to be the same ; and it is easy to perceive 
that this analogy is not accidental, since it does 
not rest merely upon imitative harmony, or on 
that conformity of organs which produces almost a 
perfect identity in the first sounds articulated by 
children. Of these one hundred and seventy 
words which have this connexion, three-fifths re- 
semble the Manchou, the Tongouse, the Mongal, 
and the Samoyed ; and two-fifths, the Celtic and 
Tchoud, the Biscay an, the Coptic, and Congo 
languages. These words have been found by 
comparing the whole of the American languages 
with the whole of those of the Old World ; for 
hitherto we are acquainted with no American 


idiom which seems to have an exclusive corres- 
pondence with any of the Asiatic, African, or 
European tongues."* Humboldt and others con- 
sidered these words as brought into America by 
recent immigrants ; an idea resting on no proof, 
and which seems at once refuted by the common 
words being chiefly those which represent primary 
ideas; besides, we now know, what was not 
formerly perceived or admitted, that there are 
great affinities of structure also. I may here refer 
to a curious mathematical calculation by Dr. 
Thomas Young, to the effect, that if three words 
coincide in two different languages, it is ten to 
one they must be derived in both cases from some 
parent language, or introduced in some other man- 
ner. " Six words would give more," he says, " than 
seventeen hundred to one, and eight near 100,000, 
so that in these cases the evidence would be little 
short of absolute certainty." He instances the 
following words to shew a connexion between the 
ancient Egyptian and the Biscayan : — 

BiscAYAN. Egyptian. 

New Beria Beri. 

A dog Ora Whor. 

Little Gutchi Kudchi. 

* Views of the Cordilleras. 


BiscAYAN. Egyptian. 

Bread .... Ognia Oik. 

A wolf .... Otgsa Ounsh. 

Seven .... Shashpi .... Shashf. 

Now, as there are, according to Humboldt, one 
hundred and seventy words in common between 
the languages of the new and old continents, and 
many of these are expressive of the most primitive 
ideas, there is, by Dr. Young's calculation, over- 
powering proof of the original connexion of the 
American and other human families. 

This completes the slight outline which I have 
been able to give, of the evidence for the various 
races of men being descended from one stock. It 
cannot be considered as conclusive, and there are 
many eminent persons who deem the opposite 
idea the more probable ; but I must say that, with- 
out the least regard to any other kind of evidence, 
that which physiology and philology present seems 
to me decidedly favourable to the idea of a single 

Assuming that the human race is one, we are 
next called upon to inquire in what part of the 
earth it may most probably be supposed to have 
originated. One obvious mode of approximating 
to a solution of this question is to trace backward 


the lines in which the principal tribes appear to 
have migrated, and to see if these converge nearly 
to a point. It is very remarkable that the lines do 
converge, and are concentrated about the region 
of Hindostan. The language, religion, modes of 
reckoning time, and some other peculiar ideas of 
the Americans, are now believed to refer their 
origin to North-Eastern Asia. Trace them farther 
back in the same direction, and we come to the 
north of India. The history of the Celts and 
Teutones represents them as coming from the east, 
the one after the other, successive waves of a tide 
of population flowing towards the north-west of 
Europe : this line being also traced back, rests 
finally at the same place. So does the line of 
Iranian population, which has peopled the east and 
south shores of the Mediterranean, Syria, Arabia, 
and Egypt. The Malay variety, again, rests its 
limit in one direction on the borders of India. 
Standing on that point, it is easy to see how the 
human family, originating there, might spread out 
in different directions, passing into varieties of 
aspect and of language as they spread, the Malay 
variety proceeding towards the Oceanic region, 
the Mongolians to the east and north, and sending 
off the red men as a sub-variety, the European 


population going off to the north-westward, and 
the Syrian, Arabian, and Egyptian, towards the 
countries which they are known to have so long 
occupied. The Negro alone is here unaccounted 
for ; and of that race it may fairly be said, that it 
is the one most likely to have had an independent 
origin, seeing that it is a type so peculiar in an 
inveterate black colour, and so mean in develop- 
ment. But it is not necessary to presume such 
an origin for it, as much good argument might be 
employed to shew that it is only a deteriorated 
offshoot of the general stock. Our view of the 
probable original seat of man agrees with the an- 
cient traditions of the race. There is one among 
the Hindoos which places the cradle of the human 
family in Thibet ; another makes Ceylon the resi- 
dence of the first man. Our view is also in har- 
mony with the hypothesis detailed in the chapter 
before the last. According to that theory, we 
should expect man to have originated where the 
highest species of the quadrumana are to be found. 
Now these are unquestionably found in the Indian 

After all, it may be regarded as still an open 
question, whether mankind is of one or many 
origins. The first human generation may have 


consisted of many pairs, though situated at one 
place, and these may have been considerably dif- 
ferent from each other in external characters. 
And we are equally bound to admit, though this 
does not as yet seem to have occurred to any other 
speculator, that there may have been different 
lines and sources of origination, geographically 
apart, but which all resulted uniformly in the pro- 
duction of a being, one in species, although 
variously marked. 

It has of late years been a favourite notion with 
many, that the human race was at first in a highly 
civilized state, and that barbarism was a second 
condition. This idea probably took its origin in 
a wish to support certain interpretations of the 
Mosaic record, and it has never yet been pro- 
pounded by any writer who seemed to have a due 
sense of the value of science in this class of in- 
vestigations. The principal argument for it is, 
that we see many examples of nations falling away 
from civilization into barbarism, while in some 
regions of the earth, the history of which we do 
not clearly know, there are remains of works of 
art far superior to any which the present unen- 
lightened inhabitants could have produced. It is 
to be readily admitted that such decadences are 


common ; but do they necessarily prove that there 
has been anything like a regular and constant 
decline into the present state, from a state more 
generally refined? May not these be only in- 
stances of local failures and suppressions of the 
principle of civihzation, where it had begun to 
take root amongst a people generally barbarous ? 
It is, at least, as legitimate to draw this inference 
from the facts which are known. But it is also 
alleged that we know of no such thing as civiliza- 
tion being ever self-originated. It is always seen 
to be imparted from one people to another. 
Hence, of course, we must infer that civilization 
at the first could only have been of supernatural 
origin. This argument appears to be founded on 
false premises, for civilization does sometimes rise 
in a manner clearly independent amongst a horde 
of people generally barbarous. A striking instance 
is described in the laborious work of Mr. Catlin 
on the North- American tribes. Far placed among 
those which inhabit the vast region of the north- 
west, and quite beyond the reach of any influence 
from the whites, he found a small tribe living in a 
fortified village, where they cultivated the arts of 
manufacture, realized comforts and luxuries, and 
had attained to a remarkable refinement of rnan- 


ners, insomuch as to be generally called the polite 
and friendly Mandans. They were also more 
than usually elegant in their persons, and of every 
variety of complexion between that of their com- 
patriots and a pure white. Up to the time of 
Mr. Catlin's visit, these people had been able to 
defend themselves and their possessions against 
the roving bands which surrounded them on all 
sides; but, soon after, they were attacked by 
small-pox, which cut them all off except a small 
party, whom their enemies rushed in upon and 
destroyed to a man. What is this but a repetition 
on a small scale of phenomena with which ancient 
history familiarizes us— a nation rising in arts and 
elegances amidst barbarous nei^-hbours, but at 
length overpowered by the rude majority, leaving 
only a Tadmor or a Luxor as a monument of itself 
to beautify the waste ? What can we suppose the 
nation which built Palenque and Copan to have 
been but only a Mandan tribe, which chanced to 
have made its way farther along the path of civili- 
zation and the arts, before the barbarians broke in 
upon it ? The flame essayed to rise in many parts 
of the earth ; but there were always considerable 
chances against it, and down it accordingly went, 
times without number; but there was always a 


vitality in it, nevertheless, and a tendency to pro- 
gress, and at length it seems to have attained a 
strength against which the powers of barbarism 
can never more prevail. The state of our know- 
ledge of uncivilized nations is very apt to make 
us fall into error on this subject. They are gene- 
rally supposed to be all at one point in barbarism, 
which is far from being the case, for in the midst 
of every great region of uncivilized men, such as 
North America, there are nations partially refined. 
The Jolofs, Mandingoes, and Kafirs, are African 
examples, where a natural and independent origin 
for the improvement which exists is as unavoidably 
to be presumed as in the case of the Mandans. 

The most conclusive argument against the ori- 
ginal civilization of mankind is to be found in the 
fact that we do not now see civilization existing 
anywhere except in certain conditions altogether 
different from . any we can suppose to have existed 
at the commencement of our race. To have civili- 
zation, it is necessary that a people should be 
numerous and closely placed ; that they should 
be fixed in their habitations, and safe from violent 
external and intjsrnal disturbance; that a consi- 
derable number of them should be exempt from 
the necessity of drudging for immediate subsist- 


ence. Feeling themselves at ease about the first 
necessities of their nature, including self-pre- 
servation, and daily subjected to that intellectual 
excitement which society produces, men begin to 
manifest what is called civilization ; but never in 
rude and shelterless circumstances, or when widely 
scattered. Even men who have been civilized, 
when transferred to a wide wilderness, where each 
has to work hard and isolatedly for the first requisites 
of life, soon shew a retrogression to barbarism ; 
witness the plains of Australia, as well as the 
backwoods of Canada and the prairies of Texas. 
Fixity of residence and thickening of population 
are perhaps the prime requisites for civilization, 
and hence it will be found that all civilizations as 
yet known have taken place in regions physically 
limited. That of Egypt arose in a narrow valley 
hemmed in by deserts on both sides. That of 
Greece took its rise in a small peninsula bounded 
on the only land side by mountains. Etruria and 
Rome were naturally limited regions. Civili- 
zations have taken place at both the eastern and 
western extremities of the elder continent — China 
and Japan, on the one hand ; Germany, Holland, 
Britain, France, on the other — while the great 
unmarked tract between contains nations decidedly 


less advanced. Why is this, but because the sea, in 
both cases, has imposed limits to further migration, 
and caused the population to settle and condense 
— the conditions most necessary for social improve- 
ment.* Even the simple case of the Mandans 
affords an illustration of this principle, for Mr. 
Catlin expressly, though without the least regard 
to theory, attributes their improvement to the 
fact of their being a small tribe, obliged, by fear of 
their more numerous enemies, to settle in aperma- 
nent village, so fortified as to ensure their pre- 
servation. " By this means," says he, " they have 
advanced farther in the arts of manufacture, and 
have supplied their lodges more abundantly with 
the comforts and even luxuries of life than any 
Indian nation I know of. The consequence of 
this," he adds, " is that the tribe have taken many- 
steps ahead of other tribes in manners and refine- 
ments" These conditions can only be regarded 
as natural laws affecting civilization, and it might 
not be difficult, taking them into account, to 

* The problem of Chinese civilization, such as it is — so puz- 
zling -when we consider that they are only, as -will be presently 
seen, the child race of mankind — is solved when we look to geo- 
graphical position producing fixity of residence and density of 


predict of any newly settled country its social 
destiny. An island like Van Dieman's land might 
fairly be expected to go on more rapidly to good 
manners and sound institutions than a wide region 
like Australia. The United States might be ex- 
pected to make no great way in civilization till 
they be fully peopled to the Pacific ; and it might 
not be unreasonable to expect that, when that even 
has occurred, the greatest civilizations of that vast 
territory will be found in the peninsula of Cali- 
fornia and the narrow stripe of country beyond 
the Rocky Mountains. This, however, is a digres- 
sion. To return : it is also necessary for a civili- 
zation that at least a portion of the community 
should be placed above mean and engrossing toils. 
Man's mind becomes subdued, like the dyer's 
hand, to that it works in. In rude and difficult 
circumstances we unavoidably become rude, be- 
cause then only the inferior and harsher faculties 
of our nature are called into existence. When, 
on the contrary, there is leisure and abundance, 
the self-seeking and self-preserving instincts are 
allowed to rest, the gentler and more generous 
sentiments are evoked, and man becomes that 
courteous and chivalric being which he is found to 
be amongst the upper classes of almost all civilized 


countries. These, then, may be said to be the 
chief natural laws concerned in the moral pheno- 
menon of civilization. If I am right in so con- 
sidering them, it will of course be readily admitted 
that the earliest families of the human race, 
although they might be simple and innocent, 
could not have been in anything like a civilized 
state, seeing that the conditions necessary for that 
state could not have then existed. Let us only for 
a moment consider some of the things requisite 
for their being civilized, — namely, a set of elegant 
homes ready furnished for their reception, fields 
ready cultivated to yield them food without labour, 
stores of luxurious appliances of all kinds, a com- 
plete social enginery for the securing of life and 
property, — and we shall turn from the whole 
conceit as one worthy only of the philosophers of 

Yet, as has^ been remarked, the earliest families 
might be simple and innocent, while at the same 
time unskilled and ignorant, and obliged to live 
merely upon such substances as they could readily 
procure. The traditions of all nations refer to 
such a state as that in which mankind were at 
first : perhaps it is not so much a tradition as an 
idea which the human mind naturally inclines to 


form respecting the fathers of the race ; but 
nothing that we see of mankind absolutely forbids 
our entertaining this idea, while there are some 
considerations rather favourable to it. A few 
families, in a state of nature, living near each 
other, in a country supplying the means of liveli- 
hood abundantly, are generally simple and inno- 
cent ; their instinctive and perceptive faculties are 
also apt to be very active, although the higher 
intellect may be dormant. If we therefore pre- 
sume India to have been the cradle of our race, 
they might at first exemplify a sort of golden age ; 
but it could not be of long continuance. The 
very first movements from the primal seat would 
be attended with degradation, nor could there be 
any tendency to true civilization till groups had 
settled and thickened in particular seats physically 

The probability may now be assumed that the 
human race sprung from one stock, which was at 
first in a state of simplicity, if not barbarism. As 
yet we have not seen very distinctly how the 
various branches of the family, as they parted off, 
and took up separate ground, became marked 
by external features so peculiar. Why are the 
Africans black, and generally marked by coarse 


features and ungainly forms ? Why are the Mon- 
golians generally yellow, the Americans red, the 
Caucasians white ? Why the flat features of the 
Chinese, the small stature of the Laps, the soft 
round forms of the English, the lank features of 
their descendants, the Americans ? All of these 
phenomena appear, in a word, to be explicable on 
the ground of development. We have already seen 
that various leading animal forms represent stages 
in the embryotic progress of the highest — the 
human being. Our brain goes through the various 
stages of a fish's, a reptile's, and a mammifer's 
brain, and finally becomes human. There is more 
than this, for, after completing the animal trans- 
formations, it passes through the characters in 
which it appears, in the Negro, Malay, American, 
and Mongolian nations, and finally is Caucasian. 
The face partakes of these alterations. " One of 
the earliest points in which ossification commences 
is the lower jaw% This bone is consequently 
sooner completed than the other bones of the 
head, and acquires a predominance, which, as is 
well known, it never loses in the Negro. During 
the soft pliant state of the bones of the skull, 
the oblong form which they naturally assume, 
approaches nearly the permanent shape of the 


Americans. At birth, the flattened face, and 
broad smooth forehead of the infant, the position 
of the eyes rather towards the side of the head, 
and the widened space between, represent the 
Mongolian form ; w^hile it is only as the child 
advances to maturity, that the oval face, the 
arched forehead, and the marked features of the 
true Caucasian, become perfectly developed."* 
The leading characters, in short, of the various races 
of mankind, are simply representations of particular 
stages in the development of the highest or Caucasian 
type. The Negro exhibits permanently the imper- 
fect brain, projecting lower jaw, and slender bent 
limbs, of a Caucasian child, some considerable 
time before the period of its birth. The abori- 
ginal American represents the same child nearer 
birth. The Mongolian is an arrested infant newly 
born. And so forth. All this is as respects form ;t 
but whence colour ? This might be supposed to 
have depended on climatal agencies only ; but it 
has been shewn by overpowering evidence to be 

* Lord's Popular Physiology, explaining observations by 
M. Serres. 

f Conformably to this view, the beard, that peculiar attribute 
of maturity, is scanty in the Mongolian, and scarcely exists in 
the A.mericans and Negroes. 


independent of these. In further considering the 
matter, we are met by the very remarkable fact 
that colour is deepest in the least perfectly deve- 
loped type, next in the Malay, next in the Ame- 
rican, next in the Mongolian, the very order in 
which the degrees of development are ranged. 
May not colour^ then, depend upon development also 9 
We do not, indeed, see that a Caucasian foetus at 
the stage which the African represents is anything 
like black; neither is a Caucasian child yellow, 
like the Mongolian. There may, nevertheless, be 
a character of skin at a certain stage of develop- 
ment which is predisposed to a particular colour 
when it is presented as the envelope of a mature 
being. Development being arrested at so imma- 
ture a stage in the case of the Negro, the skin may 
take on the colour as an unavoidable consequence 
of its imperfect organization. It is favourable to 
this view, that Negro infants are not deeply black 
at first, but only acquire the full colour tint after 
exposure for some time to the atmosphere. An- 
other consideration in its favour is that there is a 
likelihood of peculiarities of form and colour, since 
they are so coincident, depending on one set of 
phenomena. If it be admitted as true, there can 
be no difficulty in accounting for all the varieties of 


mankind. They are simply the result of so many 
advances and retrogressions in the developing 
power of the human mothers, these advances and 
retrogressions being, as we have formerly seen, 
the immediate effect of external conditions in 
nutrition, hardship, &c.,* and also, perhaps, to 
some extent, of the suitableness and unsuitableness 
of marriages, for it is found that parents too nearly 
related tend to produce offspring of the Mongohan 
type, — that is, persons who in maturity still are a 
kind of children. According to this view, the 
greater part of the human race must be considered 
as having lapsed or declined from the original 
type. In the Caucasian or Indo-European family 
alone has the primitive organization been improved 
upon. The Mongolian, Malay, American, and 
Negro, comprehending perhaps five-sixths of man- 
kind, are degenerate. Strange that the great plan 

* Of this we have perhaps an illustration in the peculiarities 
which distinguish the Arabs residing in the valley of the Jordan. 
They have flatter features, darker skins, and coarser hair than 
other tribes of their nation ; and we have seen one instance of a 
thoroughly Negro family being born to an ordinary couple. It 
may be presumed that the conditions of the life of these people 
tend to arrest development. We thus see how an offshoot of 
the human family migrating at an early period into Africa, 
might in time, from subjection to similar influences, become 


should admit of failures and aberrations of such 
portentous magnitude ! But pause and reflect ; 
take time into consideration : the past history of 
mankind may be, to what is to come, but as a day. 
Look at the progress even now making over the 
barbaric parts of the earth by the best examples of 
the Caucasian type, promising not only to fill up 
the waste places, but to supersede the imperfect 
nations already existing. Who can tell what pro- 
gress may be made, even in a single century, 
towards reversing the proportions of the perfect 
and imperfect types? and who can tell but that 
the time during which the mean types have lasted, 
long as it appears, may yet be thrown entirely 
into the shade by the time during which the best 
types will remain predominant ? 

We have seen that the traces of a common origin 
in all languages afford a ground of presumption 
for the unity of the human race. They establish 
a still stronger probability that mankind had not 
yet begun to disperse before they were possessed 
of a means of communicating their ideas by con- 
ventional sounds — in short, speech. This is a gift 
so peculiar to man, and in itself so remarkable, 
that there is a great incUnation to surmise a mira- 
culous origin for it, although there is no proper 


ground, or even support, for such an idea in Scrip- 
ture, while it is clearly opposed to everything else 
that we know with regard to the providential 
arrangements for the creation of our race. Here, 
as in many other cases, a little observation of 
nature might have saved much vain discussion. 
The real character of language itself has not been 
thoroughly understood. Language, in its most 
comprehensive sense, is the communication of 
ideas by whatever means. Ideas can be commu- 
nicated by looks, gestures, and signs of various 
other kinds, as well as by speech. The inferior 
animals possess some of those means of communi- 
cating ideas, and they have likewise a silent and 
unobservable mode of their own, the nature of 
which is a complete mystery to us, though we are 
assured of its reality by its effects. Now, as the 
inferior animals were all in being before man, 
there was language upon earth long ere the history 
of our race commenced. The only additional fact 
in the history of language, which was produced 
by our creation, was the rise of a new mode of 
expression — namely, that by sound- signs produced 
by the vocal organs. In other words, speech was 
the only novelty in this respect attending the 
creation of the human race. No doubt it was an 


addition of great importance, for, in comparison 
with it, the other natural modes of communicating 
ideas sink into insignificance. Still, the main 
and fundamental phenomenon, language, as the 
communication of ideas, was no new gift of the 
Creator to man; and in speech itself, when we 
judge of it as a natural fact, we see only a result 
of some of those superior endowments of which so 
many others have fallen to our lot through the 
medium of an improved or advanced organization. 
The first and most obvious natural endowment 
concerned in speech is that peculiar organization 
of the larynx, trachea, and mouth, which enables 
us to produce the various sounds required in the 
case. Man started at first with this organization 
ready for use, a constitution of the atmosphere 
adapted for the sounds which that organization was 
calculated to produce, and, lastly, but not leastly, 
as will afterwards be more particularly shewn, a 
mental power within, prompting to, and giving 
directions for, the expression of ideas. Such an 
arrangement of mutually adapted things was as 
likely to produce sounds as an Eolian harp placed 
in a draught is to produce tones. It was unavoid- 
able that human beings so organized, and in such 
a relation to external nature, should utter sounds, 


and also come to attach to these conventional 
meanings, thus forming the elements of spoken 
language. The great difficuky which has been 
felt was to account for man going in this respect 
beyond the inferior animals. There could have 
been no such difficulty if speculators in this class 
of subjects had looked into physiology for an 
account of the superior vocal organization of man, 
and had they possessed a true science of mind to 
shew man possessing a faculty for the expression 
of ideas which is only rudimental in the lower 
animals. Another difficulty has been in the 
consideration that, if men were at first utterly 
untutored and barbarous, they could scarcely be 
in a condition to form or employ language — an 
instrument which it requires the fullest powers of 
thought to analyse and speculate upon. But this 
difficulty also vanishes upon reflection — for, in the 
first place, we are not bound to suppose the fathers 
of our race early attaining to great proficiency in 
language, and, in the second, language itself seems 
to be amongst the things least difficult to be ac- 
quired, if we can form any judgment firom what 
we see in children, most of whom have, by three 
years of age, while their information and judgment 
are still as nothing, mastered and familiarized 


themselves with a quantity of words, infinitely 
exceeding in proportion what they acquire in the 
course of any subsequent similar portion of time. 

Discussions as to which parts of speech were 
first formed, and the processes by which gramma- 
tical structure and inflections took their rise, ap- 
pear in a great measure needless, after the matter 
has been placed in this light. The mental powers 
could readily connect particular arbitrary sounds 
wdth particular ideas, whether those ideas were 
nouns, verbs, or interjections. As the words of all 
languages can be traced back into roots which are 
monosyllables, we may presume these sounds to 
have all been monosyllabic accordingly. The 
clustering of two or more together to express a 
compound idea, and the formation of inflections 
by additional syllables expressive of pronouns and 
such prepositions as of, by, and to, are processes 
which would or might occur as matters of course, 
being simple results of a mental power called into 
action, and partly directed, by external necessities. 
This power, however, as we find it in very different 
degrees of endowment in individuals, so would it 
be in different degrees of endowment in nations, 
or branches of the human family. Hence we find 
the formation of words and the process of their 


composition and grammatical arrangement, in 
very different stages of development in different 
races. The Chinese have a language composed 
of a limited number of monosyllables, which they 
multiply in use by mere variations of accent, and 
which they have never yet attained the power of 
clustering or inflecting ; the language of this 
immense nation — the third part of the human 
race — may be said to be in the condition of infancy. 
The aboriginal Americans, so inferior in civili- 
zation, have, on the other hand, a language of the 
most elaborately composite kind, perhaps even 
exceeding, in this respect, the languages of the 
most refined European nations. These are but a 
few out of many facts tending to shew that lan- 
guage is in a great measure independent of civili- 
zation, as far as its advance and development are 
concerned. Do they not also help to prove that 
cultivated intellect is not necessary for the origina- 
tion of language ? 

Facts daily presented to our observation afford 
equally simple reasons for the almost infinite di- 
versification of language. It is invariably found 
that, wherever society is at once dense and refined, 
language tends to be uniform throughout the whole 
population, and to undergo few changes in the 


course of time. Wherever, on the contrary, we 
have a scattered and barbarous people, we have 
great diversities, and comparatively rapid altera- 
tions of language. Insomuch that, while English, 
French, and German are each spoken with little 
variation by many millions, there are islands in the 
Indian archipelago, probably not inhabited by one 
million, but in which there are hundreds of lan- 
guages, as diverse as are English, French, and 
German. It is easy to see how this should be. 
There are peculiarities in the vocal organization of 
every person, tending to produce peculiarities of 
pronunciation; for example, it has been stated 
that each child in a family of six gave the mono- 
syllable, fly, in a different manner, (eye, fy, ly, &c.) 
until, when the organs were more advanced, correct 
example induced the proper pronunciation of this 
and similar words. Such departures from orthoepy 
are only to be checked by the power of such ex- 
ample ; but this is a power not always present, or 
not always of sufficient strength. The able and 
self-devoted Robert Moffat, in his work on South 
Africa, states, without the least regard to hypo- 
thesis, that amongst the people of the towns of 
that great region, " the purity and harmony of 
language is kept up by their pitchos or public 


meetings, by their festivals and ceremonies, as 
well as by their songs and their constant inter- 
course. With the isolated villages of the desert it 
is far otherwise. They have no such meetings; 
they are compelled to traverse the wilds, often to 
a great distance from their native village. On such 
occasions, fathers and mothers, and all who can 
bear a burden, often set out for weeks at a time, and 
leave their children to the care of two or three 
infirm old people. The infant progeny, some of 
whom are beginning to lisp, while others can just 
master a whole sentence, and those still farther 
advanced, romping and playing together, the chil- 
dren of nature, through the live-long day, become 
habituated to a language of their own. The more 
voluble condescend to the less precocious, and 
thus, from this infant Babel, proceeds a dialect 
composed of a host of mongrel words and phrases, 
joined together without rule, and in the course of a 
generation the entire character of the language is 
changed.'''' * I have been told, that in like manner 
the children of the Manchester factory workers, 
left for a great part of the day, in large assemblages, 
under the care of perhaps a single elderly person, 

* Missionary Scenes and Labours in South Africa. 


and spending the time in amusements, are found 
to make a great deal of new language. I have seen 
children in other circumstances amuse themselves 
by concocting and throwing into the family circu- 
lation entirely new words; and I beheve I am 
running little risV of contradiction when I say that 
there is scarcely a family, even amongst the middle 
classes of this country, who have not some peculi- 
arities of pronunciation and syntax, which have 
originated amongst themselves, it is hardly possible 
to say how. All these things being considered, 
it is easy to understand how mankind have come 
at length to possess between three and four thou- 
sand languages, all different at least as much as 
French, German, and English, though, as has 
been shewn, the traces of a common origin are 
observable in them all. 

What has been said on the question whether 
mankind were originally barbarous or civilized, 
will have prepared the reader for understanding 
how the arts and sciences, and the rudiments of 
civilization itself, took their rise amongst men. 
The only source of fallacious views on this subject 
is the so frequent observation of arts, sciences, and 
social modes, forms, and ideas, being not indi- 
genous where we see them now flourishing, but 


known to have been derived elsewhere : thus Rome 
borrowed from Greece, Greece from Egypt, and 
Egypt itself, lost in the mists of historic antiquity, 
is now supposed to have obtained the light of 
knowledge from some still earlier scene of intel- 
lectual culture. This has caused to many a great 
difficulty in supposing a natural or spontaneous 
origin for civilization and the attendant arts. But, 
in the first place, several stages of derivation are no 
conclusive argument against there having been an 
originality at some earlier stage. In the second, 
such observers have not looked far enough, for, if 
they had, they could have seen various instances 
of civilizations which it is impossible, with any 
plausibility, to trace back to a common origin with 
others; such are those of China and America. 
They would also have seen civilization springing 
up, as it were, like oases amongst the arid plains of 
barbarism, as in the case of the Mandans. A still 
more attentive study of the subject would have 
shewn, amongst living men, the very psycholo- 
gical procedure on which the origination of civi- 
lization and the arts and sciences depended. 

These things, like language, are simply the 
effects of the spontaneous working of certain 
mental faculties, each in relation to the things of 


the external world on which it was intended by 
creative Providence to be exercised. The monkeys 
themselves, without instruction from any quarter, 
learn to use sticks in fighting, and some build 
houses — an act which cannot in their case be 
considered as one of instinct, but of intelligence. 
Such being the case, there is no necessary difficulty 
in supposing how man, with his superior mental 
organization, (a brain five times heavier,) was able, 
in his primitive state, without instruction, to turn 
many things in nature to his use, and commence, 
in short, the circle of the domestic arts. He 
appears, in the most unfavourable circumstances, 
to be able to provide himself with some sort of 
dwelling, to make weapons, and to practise some 
simple kind of cookery. But, granting, it will be 
said, that he can go thus far, how does he ever 
proceed farther unprompted, seeing that many 
nations remain fixed for ever at this point, and 
seem unable to take one step in advance ? It is 
perfectly true that there is such a fixation in many 
nations; but, on the other hand, all nations are 
not alike in mental organization, and another point 
has been established, that only when some favour- 
able circumstances have settled a people in one 
place, do arts and social arrangements get leave to 


flourish. If we were to limit our view to humbly 
endowed nations, or the common class of minds in 
those called civilized, we should see absolutely no 
conceivable power for the origination of new ideas 
and devices. But let us look at the inventive 
class of minds which stand out amongst their 
fellows — the men who, with little prompting or 
none, conceive new ideas in science, arts, morals — 
and we can be at no loss to understand how and 
whence have arisen the elements of that civilization 
which history traces from country to country 
throughout the course of centuries. See a Pascal, 
reproducing the Alexandrian's problems at fifteen ; 
a Ferguson, making clocks from the suggestions 
of his own brain, while tending cattle on a Moray- 
shire heath ; a boy Lawrence, in an inn on the 
Bath road, producing, without a master, drawings 
which the educated could not but admire ; or look 
at Solon and Confucius, devising sage laws, and 
breathing the accents of all but divine wisdom, 
for their barbarous fellow-countrymen, three thou- 
sand years ago — and the whole mystery is solved 
at once. Amongst the arrangements of Providence 
is one for the production of original, inventive, 
and aspiring minds, which, when circumstances 
are not decidedly unfavourable, strike out new 



ideas for the benefit of their fellow-creatures, or 
put upon them a lasting impress of their own 
superior sentiments. Nations, improved by these 
means, become in turn foci for the diffusion of 
light over the adjacent regions of barbarism — their 
very passions helping to this end, for nothing can 
be more clear than that ambitious aggression has 
led to the civilization of many countries. Such is 
the process which seems to form the destined 
means for bringing mankind from the darkness of 
barbarism to the day of knowledge and mechanical 
and social improvement. Even the noble art of 
letters is but, as Dr. Adam Fergusson has remarked, 
" a natural produce of the human mind, which 
will rise spontaneously, wherever men are happily 
placed ;" original alike amongst the ancient Egyp- 
tians and the dimly monumented Toltecans of 
Yucatan. " Banish," says Dr. Gall, " music, 
poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, all the 
arts and sciences, and let your Homers, Raphaels, 
Michael Angelos, Glucks, and Canovas, be for- 
gotten, yet let men of genius of every description 
spring up, and poetry, music, painting, architecture, 
sculpture, and all the arts and sciences will again 
shine out in all their glory. Twice within the 
records of history has the human race traversed 


the great circle of its entire destiny, and twice 
has the rudeness of barbarism been followed by a 
higher degree of refinement. It is a great mistake 
to suppose one people to have proceeded from 
another on account of their conformity of manners, 
customs, and arts. The swallow of Paris builds 
its nest like the swallow of Vienna, but does it 
thence follow that the former sprung from the 
latter ? With the same causes we have the same 
effects; with the same organization we have the 
manifestation of the same powers." 



It has been one of the most agreeable tasks of 
modern science to trace the wonderfully exact 
adaptations of the organization of animals to the 
physical circumstances amidst which they are 
destined to live. From the mandibles of insects 
to the hand of man, all is seen to be in the most 
harmonious relation to the things of the outward 
world, thus clearly proving that desigii presided in 
the creation of the whole — design again implying 
a designer, another word for a Creator. 

It would be tiresome to present in this place 
even a selection of the proofs which have been 
adduced on this point. The Natural Theology of 
Paley, and the Bridgewater Treatises, place the 
subject in so clear a light, that the general postu- 
late may be taken for granted. The physical 


constitution of animals is, then, to be regarded as 
in the nicest congruity and adaptation to the ex- 
ternal world. 

Less clear ideas have hitherto been entertained 
on the mental constitution of animals. The very 
nature of this constitution is not as yet generally 
known or held as ascertained. There is, indeed, 
a notion of old standing, that the mind is in some 
way connected with the brain ; but the metaphy- 
sicians insist that it is, in reality, known only by 
its acts or effects, and they accordingly present 
the subject in a form which is unlike any other 
kind of science, for it does not so much as pretend 
to have nature for its basis. There is a general 
disinclination to regard mind in connexion with 
organization, from a fear that this must needs 
interfere with the cherished religious doctrine of 
the spirit of man, and lower him to the level of 
the brutes. A distinction is therefore drawn be- 
tween our mental manifestations and those of the 
lower animals, the latter being comprehended 
under the term instinct, while ours are collectively 
described as mind, mind being again a received 
synonyme with soul, the immortal part of man. 
There is here a strange system of confusion and 
error, which it is most imprudent to regard as 


essential to religion, since candid investigations of 
nature tend to shew its untenableness. There is, 
in reality, nothing to prevent our regarding man 
as specially endowed with an immortal spirit, at 
the same time that his ordinary mental manifesta- 
tions are looked upon as simple phenomena result- 
ing from organization, those of the lower animals 
being phenomena absolutely the same in character, 
though developed within much narrower limits.* 

* " Is not God the first cause of matter as well as of mind ? 
Do not the first attributes of matter lie as inscrutable in the 
bosom of God — of its first author — as those of mind ? Has not 
even matter confessedly received from God the power of expe- 
riencing, in consequence of impressions from the earlier modifi- 
cations of matter, certain consciousnesses called sensations of the 
same ? Is not, therefore, the wonder of matter also receiving 
the consciousnesses of other matter called ideas of the mind a 
wonder more flowing out of and in analogy with all former won- 
ders, than would be, on the contrary, the wonder of this faculty 
of the mind not flowing out of any faculties of matter ? Is it not 
a wonder which, so far from destroying our hopes of immortality, 
can establish that doctrine on a train of inferences and inductions 
more firmly established and more connected with each other than 
the former belief can be, as soon as we have proved that matter 
is not perishable, but is only liable to successive combinations 
and decombinations. 

" Can we look farther back one way into the first origin of 
matter than we can look forward the other way into the last de- 
velopments of mind ? Can we say that God has not in matter 
itself laid the seeds of every faculty of mind, rather than that he 


What has chiefly tended to take mind, in the 
eyes of learned and unlearned, out of the range 
of nature, is its apparently irregular and wayward 
character. How different the manifestations in 
different beings ! how unstable in all ! — at one time 
so calm, at another so wild and impulsive ! It 
seemed impossible that anything so subtle and 
aberrant could be part of a system, the main fea- 
tures of which are regularity and precision. But 

has made the first principle of mind entirely distinct from that of 
matter ? Cannot the first cause of all we see and know have 
fraught matter itself, from its very beginning, with all the attributes 
necessary to develop into mind, as weU as he can have from the 
first made the attributes of mind wholly difierent from those of 
matter, only in order afterwards, by an imperceptible and in- 
comprehensible link, to join the two together? 

" * * [The decombinatioQ of the matter on which mind 
rests]' is this a reason why mind must be annihilated? Is the 
temporary reverting of the mind, and of the sense out of which 
that mind developes, to their original component elements, a 
reason for thinking that they cannot again at another later period, 
and in another higher globe, be again recombined, and with more 
splendour than before ? * * The New Testament does not 
after death here promise us a soul hereafter unconnected with 
matter, and which has no connexion with our present mind — a 
soul independent of time and space. That is a fanciful idea, 
not founded on its expressions, when taken in their just and real 
meaning. On the contrary, it promises us a mind like the present, 
founded on time and space ; since it is, like the present, to hold 
a certain situation in time, and a certain locality in space. But 


the irregularity of mental phenomena is only in 
appearance. When we give up the individual, 
and take the mass, we find as much uniformity of 
result as in any other class of natural phenomena. 
The irregularity is exactly of the same kind as 
that of the weather. No man can say what may 
be the weather of to-morrow ; but the quantity of 
rain which falls in any particular place in any five 
years, is precisely the same as the quantity which 
falls in any other five years at the same place. 
Thus, while it is absolutely impossible to predict 
of any one Frenchman that during next year he 
will commit a crime, it is quite certain that about 
one in every six hundred and fifty of the French 

it promises a mind situated in portions of time and of space 
diflferent from the present; a mind composed of elements of 
matter more extended, more perfect, and more glorious : a mind 
which, formed of materials supplied by different globes, is conse- 
quently able to see farther into the past, and to think farther into 
the future, than any mind here existing: a mind which, freed 
from the partial and uneven combination incidental to it on this 
globe, will be exempt from the changes for evil to which, on the 
present globe, mind as well as matter is liable, and will only 
thenceforth experience the changes for the better which matter, 
more justly poised, will alone continue to experience : a mind 
which, no longer fearing the death, the total decomposition, to 
which it is subject on this globe, will thenceforth continue last 
and immortal." — Hope, on the Origin and Prospects of Man, 


people will do so, because in past years the pro- 
portion has generally been about that amount, 
the tendencies to crime in relation to the tempta- 
tions being everywhere invariable over a sufficiently 
wide range of time. So also, the number of per- 
sons taken in charge by the police in London for 
being drunk and disorderly on the streets, is, week 
by week, a nearly uniform quantity, shewing that 
the inclination to drink to excess is always in the 
mass about the same, regard being had to the 
existing temptations or stimulations to this vice. 
Even mistakes and oversights are of regular recur- 
rence, for it is found in the post-offices of large 
cities, that the number of letters put in without 
addresses is year by year the same. Statistics has 
made out an equally distinct regularity in a wide 
range, with regard to many other things concern- 
ing the mind, and the doctrine founded upon it 
has lately produced a scheme which may well 
strike the ignorant with surprise. It was proposed 
to establish in London a society for ensuring the 
integrity of clerks, secretaries, collectors, and all 
such functionaries as are usually obliged to find 
security for money passing through their hands in 
the course of business. A gentleman of the highest 
character as an actuary spoke of the plan in the 


following terms : — " If a thousand bankers' clerks 
were to club together to indemnify their securities, 
by the payment of one pound a year each, and if 
each had given security for 500/., it is obvious 
that two in each year might become defaulters to 
that amount, four to half the amount, and so on, 
without rendering the guarantee fund insolvent. 
If it be tolerably well ascertained that the instances 
of dishonesty (yearly) among such persons amount 
to one in five hundred, this club w^ould continue 
to exist, subject to being in debt in a bad year, to 
an amount which it would be able to discharge in 
good ones. The only question necessary to be 
asked previous to the formation of such a club 
would be, — may it not be feared that the motive 
to resist dishonesty would be lessened by the ex- 
istence of the club, or that ready-made rogues, by 
belonging to it, might find the means of obtaining 
situations which they would otherwise have been 
kept out of by the impossibility of obtaining 
security among those who know them ? Suppose 
this be sufficiently answered by saying, that none 
but those who could bring satisfactory testimony 
to their previous good character should be allowed 
to join the club ; that persons who may now hope 
that a deficiency on their parts will be made up and 


hushed up by the relative or friend who is security, 
will know very well that the club will have no 
motive to decline a prosecution, or to keep the 
secret, and so on. It then only remains to ask, 
whether the sum demanded for the guarantee is 
sufficient?''* The philosophical principle on which 
the scheme proceeds, seems to be simply this, that, 
amongst a given (large) number of persons of 
good character, there will be, within a year or 
other considerable space of time, a determinate 
number of instances in which moral principle and 
the terror of the consequences of guilt will be 
overcome by temptations of a determinate kind 
and amount, and thus occasion a certain periodical 
amount of loss which the association must make up. 
This statistical regularity in moral affairs fully 
establishes their being under the presidency of law. 
Man is now seen to be an enigma only as an indi- 
vidual ; in the mass he is a mathematical problem. 
It is hardly necessary to say, much less to argue, 
that mental action, being proved to be under law, 
passes at once into the category of natural things. 
Its old metaphysical character vanishes in a 

* Dublin Review, Aug. 1840. The Guarantee Society has 
since been established, and is likely to become a useful and pros 
perous institution. 


moment, and the distinction usually taken between 
physical and moral is annulled, as only an error in 
terms. This view agrees with what all observa- 
tion teaches, that mental phenomena flow directly 
from the brain. They are seen to be dependent 
on naturally constituted and naturally conditioned 
organs, and thus obedient, like all other organic 
phenomena, to law. And how wondrous must the 
constitution of this apparatus be, which gives us 
consciousness of thought and of affection, which 
makes us familiar with the numberless things of 
earth, and enables us to rise in conception and 
communion to the councils of God himself! It is 
matter which forms the medium or instrument — a 
little mass which, decomposed, is but so much 
common dust ; yet in its living constitution, de- 
signed, formed, and sustained by Almighty Wis- 
dom, how admirable its character ! how reflective 
of the unutterable depths of that Power by which 
it was so formed, and is so sustained ! 

In the mundane economy, mental action takes 
its place as a means of providing for the indepen- 
dent existence and the various relations of animals, 
each species being furnished according to its special 
necessities and the demands of its various relations. 
The nervous system — the more comprehensive term 


for its organic apparatus — is variously developed 
in different classes and species, and also in different 
individuals, the volume or mass bearing a general 
relation to the amount of power. In the mollusca 
and Crustacea we see simply a ganglionic cord 
pervading the extent of the body, and sending out 
lateral filaments. In the vertebrata, we find a 
brain with a spinal cord, and branching lines of 
nervous tissue.* But here, as in the general 
structure of animals, the great principle of unity is 
observed. The brain of the vertebrata is merely 
an expansion of one of the ganglions of the nervous 
cord of the mollusca and Crustacea. Or the cor- 
responding ganglion of the mollusca and Crustacea 
may be regarded as the rudiment of a brain ; the 
superior organ thus appearing as only a farther 
development of the inferior. There are many 
facts which tend to prove that the action of this 
apparatus is of an electric nature, a modification 
of that surprising agent, which takes magnetism, 
heat, and light, as other subordinate forms, and of 
whose general scope in this great system of things 

* The ray, which is considered the lowest in the scale of fishes, 
or next to the crustaceans, gives the first faint representation of 
a brain in certain scanty and medullary masses, which appear 
as merely composed of enlarged origins of the nerves. 


we are only beginning to have a right conception. 
It has been found that simple electricity, artificially 
produced, and sent along the nerves of a dead 
body, excites muscular action. The brain of a 
newly-killed animal being taken out, and replaced 
by a substance which produces electric action, the 
operation of digestion, which had been interrupted 
by the death of the animal, was resumed, shewing 
the absolute identity of the brain with a galvanic 
battery. Nor is this a very startling idea, when 
we reflect that electricity is almost as metaphy- 
sical as ever mind was supposed to be. It is a 
thing perfectly intangible, weightless. Metal may 
be magnetized, or heated to seven hundred of 
Fahrenheit, without becoming the hundredth part 
of a grain heavier. And yet electricity is a real 
thing, an actual existence in nature, as witness the 
effects of heat and light in vegetation — the power of 
the galvanic current to re-assemble the particles of 
copper from a solution, and make them again into 
a solid plate — the rending force of the thunderbolt 
as it strikes the oak ; see also how both heat and 
light observe the angle of incidence in reflection, 
as exactly as does the grossest stone thrown 
obliquely against a wall. So mental action may 


be imponderable, intangible, and 3^et a real exist- 
ence, and ruled hy the Eternal through his 

Common observation shews a great general su- 
periority of the human mind over that of the infe- 
rior animals. Man's mind is almost infinite in 
device ; it ranges over all the world ; it forms the 
most wonderful combinations ; it seeks back into the 
past, and stretches forward into the future ; while 
the animals generally appear to have a narrow 
range of thought and action. But so also has an 
infant but a limited range, and yet it is mind which 
works there, as well as in the most accomplished 
adults. The difference between mind in the lower 
animals and in man is a difference in degree 

* If mental action is electric, the proverbial quickness of 
thought — that is, the quickness of the transmission of sensation 
and will — may be presumed to have been brought to an exact 
measurement. The speed of light has long been known to be 
about 192,000 miles per second, and the experiments of Wheat- 
stone have shewn that the electric agent travels (if I may so 
speak) at the same rate, thus shewing a likelihood that one law 
rules the movements of all the " imponderable bodies." Mental 
action may accordingly be presumed to have a rapidity equal to 
one hundred and ninety-two thousand miles in the second — a 
rate evidently far beyond what is necessary to make the design 
and execution of any of our ordinary muscular movements appa- 
•ently identical in point of time, which they are. 


only ; it is not a specific difference. All who have 
studied animals by actual observation, and even 
those who have given a candid attention to the 
subject in books, must attain more or less clear 
convictions of this truth, notwithstanding all the 
obscurity which prejudice may have engendered. 
We see animals capable of affection, jealousy, envy ; 
we see them quarrel, and conduct quarrels, in the 
very manner pursued by the more impulsive of our 
own race. We see them liable to flattery, inflated 
with pride, and dejected by shame. We see them 
as tender to their young as human parents are, and 
as faithful to a trust as the most conscientious of 
human servants. The horse is startled by mar- 
vellous objects, as a man is. The dog and many 
others shew tenacious memory. The dog also 
proves himself possessed of imagination, by the act 
of dreaming. Horses, finding themselves in want 
of a shoe, have of their own accord gone to a 
farrier's shop where they were shod before. Cats, 
closed up in rooms, will endeavour to obtain their 
liberation by pulling a latch or ringing a bell. It 
has several times been observed that in a field of 
cattle, when one or two were mischievous, and 
persisted long in annoying or tyrannizing over the 
rest, the herd, to all appearance, consulted, and 


then, making a united effort, drove the troublers 
off the ground. The members of a rookery have 
also been observed to take turns in supplying the 
needs of a family reduced to orphanhood. All of 
these are acts of reason, in no respect different 
from similar acts of men. Moreover, although there 
is no heritao;e of accumulated knowledo;e amono;st , 
the lower animals, as there is amongst us, they are 
in some degree susceptible of those modifications 
of natural character, and capable of those acccfm- 
plishments, which we call education. The taming 
and domestication of animals, and the changes 
thus produced upon their nature in the course of 
generations, are results identical with civilization 
amongst ourselves ; and the quiet, servile steer is 
probably as unlike the original wild cattle of this 
country, as the English gentleman of the present 
day is unlike the rude baron of the age of King 
John. Between a young, unbroken horse, and a 
trained one, there is, again, all the difference which 
exists between a wild youth reared at his own dis- 
cretion in the country, and the same person when 
he has been toned down by long exposure to the 
influences of refined society. On the accomplish- 
ments acquired by animals it were superfluous to 
enter at any length ; but I may advert to the 


dogs of M. Leonard, as remarkable examples of 
what the animal intellect may be trained to. When 
four pieces of card are laid down before them, each 
having a number pronounced once in connexion 
with it, they will, after a re-arrangement of the 
pieces, select any one named by its number. They 
also play at dominoes, and with so much skill as to 
triumph over biped opponents, whining if the ad- 
versary place a wrong piece, or if they themselves 
be deficient in a right one. Of extensive combi- 
nations of thought we have no reason to believe 
that any animal is capable — and yet most of us 
must feel the force of Walter Scott's remark, that 
there was scarcely anything which he would not 
believe of a dog. There is a curious result of 
education in certain animals, namely, that habits 
to which they have been trained in some instances 
become hereditary. For example, the accomplish- 
ment of pointing at game, although a pure result 
of education, appears in the young pups brought 
up apart from their parents and kind. The pecu- 
liar leap of the Irish horse, acquired in the course 
of traversing a boggy country, is continued in the 
progeny brought up in England. This hereditari- 
ness of specific habits, suggests a relation to that 
form of psychological demonstration usually called 


instinct; but instinct is only another term for 
mind, or is mind in a peculiar stage of develop- 
ment ; and though the fact were otherwise, it could 
not affect the postulate, that demonstrations such 
as have been enumerated are mainly intellectual 
demonstrations, not to be distinguished as such 
from those of human beings. 

More than this, the lower animals manifested 
mental phenomena long before man existed. 
While as yet there was no brain capable of work- 
ing out a mathematical problem, the economy of 
the six-sided figure was exemplified by the instinct 
of the bee. Ere human musician had whistled or 
piped, the owl hooted in B flat, the cuckoo had 
her song of a falling third, and the chirp of the 
cricket was in B. The dog and the elephant pre- 
figured the sagacity of the human mind. The love 
of a human mother for her babe was anticipated 
by nearly every humbler mammal, the carnaria 
not excepted. The peacock strutted, the turkey 
blustered, and the cock fought for victory, just as 
human beings afterwards did, and still do. Our 
faculty of imitation, on which so much of our 
amusement depends, was exercised by the mock- 
ing-bird; and the whole tribe of monkeys must 
have walked about the pre-human world, playing 


off those tricks in which we see the comicality 
and mischief-making of our character so curiously 

The unity and simplicity which characterize 
nature give great antecedent probability to what 
observation seems about to establish, that, as the 
brain of the vertebrata generally is just an advanced 
condition of a particular ganglion in the mollusca 
and Crustacea, so are the brains of the higher and 
more intelligent mammalia only farther develop- 
ments of the brains of the inferior orders of the 
same class. Or, to the same purpose, it may be 
said, that each species has certain superior deve- 
lopments, according to its needs, while others are 
in a rudimental or repressed state. This will 
more clearly appear after some inquiry has been 
made into the various powers comprehended under 
the term mind. 

One of the first and simplest functions of mind 
is to give consciousness — consciousness of our 
identity and of our existence. This, apparently, 
is independent of the senses^ which are simply 
media, and, as Locke has shewn, the only media, 
through which ideas respecting the external world 
reach the brain. The access of such ideas to the 
brain is the act to which the metaphysicians have 


given the name of perception. Gall, however, 
has shewn, by induction from a vast number of 
actual cases, that there is a part of the brain 
devoted to perception, and that even this is sub- 
divided into portions which are respectively dedi- 
cated to the reception of different sets of ideas, as 
those of form, size, colour, weight, objects in their 
totality, events in their progress or occurrence, 
time, musical sounds, &c. The system of mind 
invented by this philosopher — the only one founded 
upon nature, or which even pretends to or admits 
of that necessary basis — shews a portion of the 
brain acting as a faculty of comic ideas, another of 
imitation, another of wonder, one for discrimi- 
nating or observing differences, and another in 
which resides the power of tracing effects to 
causes. There are also parts of the brain for the 
sentimental part of our nature, or the affections, 
at the head of which stand the moral feelings of 
benevolence, conscientiousness, and veneration. 
Through these, man stands in relation to himself, 
his fellow-men, the external world, and his God ; 
and through these comes most of the happiness of 
man's life, as well as that which he derives from 
the contemplation of the world to come, and the 
cultivation of his relation to it, (pure religion.) 


The other sentiments may be briefly enumerated, 
their names being sufficient in general to denote 
their functions — firmness, hope, cautiousness, self- 
esteem, love of approbation, secretiveness, marvel- 
lousness, con struct! veness, imitation, combativeness, 
destructiveness, concentrativeness, adhesiveness, 
love of the opposite sex, love of offspring, alimen- 
tiveness, and love of life. Through these faculties, 
man is connected v^ith the external world, and 
supplied with active impulses to maintain his 
place in it as an individual and as a species. There 
is also a faculty, (language) for expressing, by what- 
ever means, (signs, gestures, looks, conventional 
terms in speech,) the ideas which arise in the 
mind. There is a particular state of each of these 
faculties, when the ideas of objects once formed 
by it are revived or reproduced, a process which 
seems to be intimately allied with some of the 
phenomena of the new science of photography, 
when images impressed by reflection of the sun's 
rays upon sensitive paper are, after a temporary 
obliteration, resuscitated on the sheet being ex- 
posed to the fumes of mercury. Such are the 
phenomena of memory, that handmaid of intellect, 
without which there could be no accumulation of 
mental capital, but an universal and continual 


infancy. Conception and imagination appear to 
be only intensities, so to speak, of the state of 
brain in which memory is produced. On their 
promptness and power depend most of the exer- 
tions which distinguish the man of arts and letters, 
and even in no small measure the cultivator of 

The faculties above described — the actual ele- 
ments of the mental constitution — are seen in 
mature man in an indefinite potentiality and 
range of action. It is different with the lower 
animals. They are there comparatively definite 
in their power and restricted in their application. 
The reader is familiar with what are called instincts 
in some of the humbler species, that is, an uniform 
and unprompted tendency towards certain parti- 
cular acts, as the building of cells by the bee, the 
storing of provisions by that insect and several 
others, and the construction of nests for a coming 
progeny by birds. This quality is nothing more 
than a mode of operation peculiar to the faculties 
in a humble state of endowment, or early stage of 
development. The cell formation of the bee, the 
house-building of ants and beavers, the web- 
spinning of spiders, are but primitive exercises of 
constructiveness, the faculty which, indefinite with 


US, leads to the arts of the weaver, upholsterer, 
architect, and mechanist, and makes us often work 
delightedly where our labours are in vain, or 
nearly so. The storing of provisions by the ants 
is an exercise of acquisitiveness, — the faculty which 
with us makes rich men and misers. A vast 
number of curious devices, by which insects pro- 
vide for the protection and subsistence of their 
young, whom they are perhaps never to see, are 
most probably a peculiar restricted effort of philo- 
progenitiveness. The common source of this class 
of acts, and of common mental operations, is shewn 
very convincingly by the melting of the one set 
into the other. Thus, for example, the bee and 
bird will make modifications in the ordinary form 
of their cells and nests when necessity compels 
them. Thus, the alimentiveness of such animals 
as the dog, usually definite with regard to quantity 
and quality, can be pampered or educated up to 
a kind of epicurism, that is, an indefiniteness of 
object and action. The same faculty acts limitedly 
in ourselves at first, dictating the special act 
of sucking; afterwards it acquires indefiniteness. 
Such is the real nature of the distinction between 
what are called instincts and reason, upon which so 
many volumes have been written without profit to 


the world. All faculties are instinctive, that is, 
dependent on internal and inherent impulses. 
This term is therefore not specially applicable to 
either of the recognised modes of the operation of 
the faculties. We only, in the one case, see the 
faculty in an immature and slightly developed 
state ; in the other, in its most advanced condition. 
In the one- case it is definite, in the other indefinite, 
in its range of action. These terms would perhaps 
be the most suitable for expressing the distinction. 
In the humblest forms of being we can trace 
scarcely anything besides a definite action in a 
few of the faculties. Generally speaking, as we 
ascend in the scale, we see more and more of the 
faculties in exercise, and these tending more to 
the indefinite mode of manifestation. And for 
this there is the obvious reason in providence, that 
the lowest animals have all of them a very limited 
sphere of existence, born only to perform a few 
functions, and enjoy a brief term of life, and then 
give way to another generation, so that they do 
not need much mental guidance. At higher 
points in the scale, the sphere of existence is con- 
siderably extended, and the mental operations are 
less definite accordingly. The horse, dog, and a 
few other rasorial types, noted for their service- 
Q 3 


ableness to our race, have the indefinite powers in 
no small endowment. Man, again, shews very 
little of the definite mode of operation, and that 
little chiefly in childhood, or in barbarism or 
idiocy. Destined for a wide field of action, and 
to be applicable to infinitely varied contingencies, 
he has all the faculties developed to a high pitch 
of indefiniteness, that he may be ready to act well 
in all imaginable cases. His commission, it may 
be said, gives large discretionary powers, while 
that of the inferior animals is limited to a few 
precise directions. But when the human brain is 
congenitally imperfect or diseased, or when it is 
in the state of infancy, we see in it an approach 
towards the character of the brains of some of the 
inferior animals. Dr. G. J. Davey states that he 
has frequently witnessed, among his patients at the 
Han well Lunatic Asylum, indications of a parti- 
cular abnormal cerebration which forcibly reminded 
him of the specific healthy characteristics of animals 
lower in the scale of organization;* and every one 
must have observed how often the actions of chil- 
dren, especially in their moments of play, and 
where their selfish feelings are concerned, bear a 

* Phrenological Journal, xv. 338. 


resemblance to those of certain familiar animals.* 
Behold, then, the wonderful unity of the whole 
system. The grades of mind, like the forms of 
being, are mere stages of development. In the 
humbler forms, but a few of the mental faculties 
are traceable, just as we see in them but a few of 
the lineaments of universal structure. In man 
the system has arrived at its highest condition. 
The few gleams of reason, then, which we see in 
the lower animals, are precisely analogous to such 
a development of the fore-arm as we find in the 
paddle of the whale. Causality, comparison, and 
other of the nobler faculties, are in them rudi- 

Bound up as we thus are by an identity in the 
character of our mental organization with the 
lower animals, we are yet, it will be observed, 
strikingly distinguished from them by this great 
advance in development. We have faculties in 
full force and activity which the animals either 
possess not at all, or in so low and obscure a form 
as to be equivalent to non-existence. Now these 

* A pampered lap-dog, living where there is another of its 
own species, will hide any nice morsel which it cannot eat, under 
a rug, or in some other by-place, designing to enjoy it after- 
wards. I have seen children do the same thing. 


parts of mind are those which connect us with the 
things that are not of this world. We have vene- 
ration, prompting us to the worship of the Deity, 
which the animals lack. We have hope, to carry 
us on in thought beyond the bounds of time. We 
have reason, to enable us to inquire into the cha- 
racter of the Great Father, and the relation of us, 
his humble creatures, towards him. We have con- 
scientiousness and benevolence, by which we can 
in a faint and humble measure imitate, in our 
conduct, that which he exemplifies in the whole 
of his wondrous doings. Beyond this, mental 
science does not carry us in support of religion : 
the rest depends on evidence of a different kind. 
But it is surely much that we thus discover in 
nature a provision for things so important. The 
existence of faculties having a regard to such things 
is a good evidence that such things exist. The 
face of God is reflected in the organization of man, 
as a little pool reflects the glorious sun. 

The affective or sentimental faculties are all of 
them liable to operate whenever appropriate ob- 
jects or stimuli are presented, and this they do as 
irresistibly and unerringly as the tree sucks up 
moisture which it requires, with only this exception, 
that one faculty often interferes with the action of 


another, and operates instead by force of superior 
inherent strength or temporary activity. For ex- 
ample, alimentiveness may be in powerful opera- 
tion with regard to its appropriate object, producing 
a keen appetite, and yet it may not act, in conse- 
quence of the more powerful operation of cautious- 
ness, warning against evil consequences likely to 
ensue from the desired indulgence. This liability 
to flit from under the control of one feeling to the 
control of another, constitutes what is recognised 
as free will in man, being nothing more than a 
vicissitude in the supremacy of the faculties over 
each other. 

It is a common mistake to suppose that the in- 
dividuals of our own species are all of them formed 
with similar faculties — similar in power and ten- 
dency — and that education and the influence of 
circumstances produce all the differences which we 
observe. There is not, in the old systems of mental 
philosophy, any doctrine more opposite to the truth 
than this. It is refuted at once by the great dif- 
ferences of intellectual tendency and moral dispo- 
sition to be observed amongst a group of young 
children who have been all brought up in circum- 
stances perfectly identical — even in twins, who 
have never been but in one place, under the charge 


of one nurse, attended to alike in all respects. 
The mental characters of individuals are inherently 
various, as the forms of their persons and the fea- 
tures of their faces are; and education and cir- 
cumstances, though their influence is not to be 
despised, are incapable of entirely altering these 
characters, where they are strongly developed. 
That the original characters of mind are dependent 
on the volume of particular parts of the brain and 
the general quality of that viscus, is proved by 
induction from an extensive range of observations, 
the force of which must have been long since uni- 
versally acknowledged but for the unpreparedness 
of mankind to admit a functional connexion be- 
tween mind and body. The different mental 
characters of individuals may be presumed from 
analogy to depend on the same law of develop- 
ment which we have seen determining forms of 
being and the mental characters of particular 
species. This we may conceive as carrying for- 
ward the intellectual powers and moral dispositions 
of some to a high pitch, repressing those of others 
at a moderate amount, and thus producing all the 
varieties which we see in our fellow-creatures. 
Thus a Cuvier and a Newton are but expansions 
of a clown, and the person emphatically called the 


wicked man, is one whose highest moral feehngs 
are rudimental. Such differences are not confined 
to our species ; they are only less strongly marked 
in many of the inferior animals. There are clever 
dogs and wicked horses, as well as clever men and 
wicked men, and education sharpens the talents, 
and in some degree regulates the dispositions of 
animals, as it does our own. Here I may advert 
to a very interesting analogy between the mental 
characters of the types in the quinary system of 
zoology and the characters of individual men. We 
have seen that the pre-eminent type is usually 
endowed with an harmonious assemblage of the 
mental qualities belonging to the whole group, 
while the sub-typical inclines to ferocity, the 
rasorial to gentleness, and so on. Now, amongst 
individuals, some appear to be almost exclusively 
of the sub-typical, and others of the rasorial cha- 
racters, while to a limited number is given the 
finely assorted assemblage of qualities which places 
them on a parallel with the typical. To this may 
be attributed the universality which marks all the 
very highest brains, such as those of Shakespeare 
and Scott, men of whom it has been remarked 
that they must have possessed within themselves 
not only the poet, but the warrior, the statesman, 


and the philosopher ; and who, moreover, appear 
to have had the mild and manly, the moral and 
the forcible parts of our nature, in the most perfect 

There is, nevertheless, a general adaptation of 
the mental constitution of man to the circum- 
stances in which he lives, as there is between all 
the parts of nature to each other. The goods of 
the physical world are only to be realized by in- 
genuity and industrious exertion ; behold, accord- 
ingly, an intellect full of device, and a fabric of the 
faculties which would go to pieces or destroy itself 
if it were not kept in constant occupation. Nature 
presents to us much that is sublime and beautiful : 
behold faculties which delight in contemplating 
these properties of hers, and in rising upon them, 
as upon wings, to the presence of the Eternal. 
It is also a world of difficulties and perils, and see 
how a large portion of our species are endowed 
with vigorous powers which take a pleasure in 
meeting and overcoming difficulty and danger. 
Even that principle on which our faculties are con- 
stituted — a wide range of freedom in which to act 
for all various occasions — necessitates a resentful 
faculty, by which individuals may protect them- 
selves from the undue and capricious exercise of 


each other's faculties, and thus preserve their 
individual rights. So also there is cautiousness, to 
give us a tendency to provide against the evils by 
which we may be assailed ; and secretiveness, to 
enable us to conceal whatever, being divulged, 
would be offensive to others or injurious to our- 
selves, — a function which obviously has a certain 
legitimate range of action, however liable to be 
abused. The constitution of the mind generally 
points to a state of intimate relation of individuals 
towards society, towards the external world, and 
towards things above this world. No individual 
being is integral or independent ; he is only part 
of an extensive piece of social mechanism. The 
inferior mind, full of rude energy and unregulated 
impulse, does not more require a superior nature 
to act as its master and its mentor, than does the 
superior nature require to be surrounded by such 
rough elements on which to exercise its high 
endowments as a ruling and tutelary power. This 
relation of each to each produces a vast portion of 
the active business of life. It is easy to see that, 
if we were all alike in our moral tendencies, and 
all placed on a medium of perfect moderation in 
this respect, the world would be a scene of ever- 
lasting dulness and apathy. It requires the 


variety of individual constitution to give moral 
life to the scene. 

The indefiniteness of the potentiality of the 
human faculties, and the complexity which thus 
attends their relations, lead unavoidably to occa- 
sional error. If we consider for a moment that 
there are not less than thirty such faculties, that 
they are each given in diiferent proportions to dif- 
ferent persons, that each is at the same time en- 
dowed with a wide discretion as to the force and 
frequency of its action, and that our neighbours, 
the world, and our connexions with something 
beyond it, are all exercising an ever-varying influ- 
ence over us, we cannot be surprised at the irregu- 
larities attending human conduct. It is simply 
the penalty paid for the superior endowment. It 
is here that the imperfection of our nature resides. 
Causality and conscientiousness are, it is true, 
guides over all; but even these are only faculties 
of the same indeterminate constitution as the rest, 
and partake accordingly of the same inequality of 
action. Man is therefore a piece of mechanism, 
which never can act so as to satisfy his own ideas 
of what he might be — for he can imagine a state 
of moral perfection, (as he can imagine a globe 
formed of diamonds, pearls, and rubies,) though 


his constitution forbids him to reaUze it. There 
ever will, in the best disposed and most disci- 
plined minds, be occasional discrepancies between 
the amount of temptation and the power summoned 
for regulation or resistance, or between the stimulus 
and the mobility of the faculty ; and hence those 
errors, and shortcomings, and excesses, without 
end, with which the good are constantly finding 
cause to charge themselves. There is at the same 
time even here a possibility of improvement. In 
infancy, the impulses are all of them irregular ; a 
child is cruel, cunning, and false, under the slightest 
temptation, but in time learns to control these in- 
clinations, and to be habitually humane, frank, and 
truthful. So is human society, in its earliest 
stages, sanguinary, aggressive, and deceitful, but in 
time becomes just, faithful, and benevolent. To 
such improvements there is a natural tendency 
which will operate in all fair circumstances, though 
it is not to be expected that irregular and undue 
impulses will ever be altogether banished from the 

It may still be a puzzle to many, how beings 
should be bom into the world whose organization 
is such that they unavoidably, even in a civilized 
country, become malefactors. Does God, it may 


be asked, make criminals ? Does he fashion cer- 
tain beings with a predestination to evil ? He does 
not do so ; and yet the criminal type of brain, as it 
is called, comes into existence in accordance with 
laws which the Deity has established. It is not, 
however, as the result of the first or general inten- 
tion of those laws, but as an exception from their 
ordinary and proper action. The production of 
those evilly disposed beings is in this manner. 
The moral character of the progeny depends in a 
general way, (as does the physical character also,) 
upon conditions of the parents, — both general 
conditions, and conditions at the particular time of 
the commencement of the existence of the new 
being, and likewise external conditions affecting 
the fcetus through the mother. Now the amount 
of these conditions is indefinite. The faculties of 
the parents, as far as these are concerned, may 
have oscillated for the time towards the extreme 
of tensibility in one direction. The influences 
upon the foetus may have also been of an extreme 
and unusual kind. Let us suppose that the condi- 
tions upon the whole have been favourable for the 
development, not of the higher, but of the lower 
sentiments, and of the. propensities of the new 
being, the result will necessarily be a mean type of 


brain. Here, it will be obsei-ved, God no more 
decreed an immoral being, than he decreed an 
immoral paroxysm of the sentiments. Our per- 
plexity is in considering the ill-disposed being by 
himself. He is only a part of a series of pheno- 
mena, traceable to a principle good in the main, 
but which admits of evil as an exception. We 
have seen that it is for wise ends that God leaves 
our moral faculties to an indefinite range of 
action; the general good results of this arrange- 
ment are obvious ; but exceptions of evil are inse- 
parable from such a system, and this is one of 
them. To come to particular illustration — when a 
people are oppressed, or kept in a state of slavery, 
they invariably contract habits of lying, for the 
purpose of deceiving and outwitting their supe- 
riors, falsehood being a refuge of the weak under- 
difficulties. What is a habit in parents becomes 
an inherent quality in children. We are not, 
therefore, to be surprised when a traveller tells us 
that black children in the West Indies appear to 
lie by instinct, and never answer a white person 
truly even in the simplest matter. Here we have 
secretiveness roused in a people to a state of con- 
stant and exalted exercise ; an over tendency of 
the nervous energy in that direction is the conse- 


quence, and a new organic condition is established. 
This tells upon the progeny, which comes into 
the world with secretiveness excessive in volume 
and activity. All other evil characteristics may 
be readily conceived as being implanted in a new 
generation in the same way. And sometimes not 
one, but several generations, may be concerned in 
bringing up the result to a pitch which produces 
crime. It is, however, to be observed, that the 
general tendency of things is to a limitation, not 
the extension of such abnormally constituted 
beings. The criminal brain finds itself in a social 
scene where all is against it. It may struggle on 
for a time, but the medium and superior natures 
are never long at a loss in getting the better of it. 
The disposal of such beings will always depend 
much on the moral state of a community, the de- 
gree in which just views prevail with regard to 
human nature, and the feelings which accident 
may have caused to predominate at a particular 
time. Where the mass was little enlightened or 
refined, and terrors for life or property were highly 
excited, malefactors have ever been treated severely. 
But when order is generally triumphant, and 
reason allowed sway, men begin to see the true 
case of criminals — namely, that while one large 


department are victims of erroneous social condi- 
tions, another are brought to error by tendencies 
which they are only unfortunate in having inhe- 
rited from nature. Criminal jurisprudence then 
addresses itself less to the direct punishment than 
to the reformation and care-taking of those liable 
to its attention. And such a treatment of crimi- 
nals, it may be farther remarked, so that it stop 
short of affording any encouragement to crime, (a 
point which experience will determine,) is evi- 
dently no more than justice, seeing how accidentally 
all forms of the moral constitution are distributed, 
and how thoroughly mutual obligation shines 
throughout the whole frame of society — the strong 
to help the weak, the good to redeem and restrain 
the bad. 

The sum of all we have seen of the psychical 
constitution of man is, that its Almighty Author 
has destined it, like everything else, to be developed 
from inherent qualities, and to have a mode of 
action depending solely on its own organization. 
Thus the whole is complete on one principle. 
The masses of space are formed by law ; law makes 
them in due time theatres of existence for plants 
and animals; sensation, disposition, intellect, are 
all in like manner developed and sustained in 


action by law. It is most interesting to observe 
into how small a field the whole of the mysteries 
of nature thus ultimately resolve themselves. The 
inorganic has one final comprehensive law, gravi- 
tation. The organic, the other great department 
of mundane things, rests in like manner on one 
law, and that is, — development. Nor may even 
these be after all twain, but only branches of one 
still more comprehensive law, the expression of that 
unity which man's wit can scarcely separate from 
Deitv itself. 



We have now to inquire how this view of the con- 
stitution and origin of nature bears upon the condi- 
tion of man upon the earth, and his relation to 
supra-mundane things. 

That enjoyment is the proper attendant of animal 
existence is pressed upon us by all that we see and 
all we experience. Everywhere we perceive in 
the lower creatures, in their ordinary condition, 
symptoms of enjoyment. Their whole being is a 
system of needs, the supplying of which is gratifi- 
cation, and of faculties, the exercise of which is 
pleasurable. When we consult our ow^n sensations, 
we find that, even in a sense of a healthy per- 
formance of all the functions of the animal eco- 
nomy, God has furnished us with an innocent and 



very high enjoyment. The mere quiet conscious- 
ness of a healthy play of the mental functions — a 
mind at ease with itself and all around it — is in 
like manner extremely agreeable. This negative 
class of enjoyments, it may be remarked, is likely 
to be even more extensively experienced by the 
lower animals than by man, at least in the propor- 
tion of their absolute endowments, as their mental 
and bodily functions are much less liable to de- 
rangement than ours. To find the world con- 
stituted on this principle is only what in reason 
w^e would expect. We cannot conceive that so 
vast a system could have been created for a con- 
trary purpose. No averagely constituted human 
being would, in his own limited sphere of action, 
think of producing a similar system upon an oppo- 
site principle. But to form so vast a range of 
being, and to make being everywhere a source of 
gratification, is conformable to our ideas of a 
Creator in w^hom we are constantly discovering 
traits of a nature, of which our own is but a faint 
and far-cast shadow at the best. 

It appears at first difficult to reconcile with this 
idea the many miseries which we see all sentient 
beings, ourselves included, occasionally enduring. 
How, the sage has asked in every age, should a 


Being so transcendently kind, have allowed of so 
large an admixture of evil in the condition of his 
creatures? Do we not at length find an answer 
to a certain extent satisfactory, in the view which 
has now been given of the constitution of nature ? 
We there see the Deity operating in the most 
august of his works by fixed laws, an arrangement 
which, it is clear, only admits of the main and 
primary results being good, but disregards excep- 
tions. Now the mechanical laws are so definite 
in their purposes, that no exceptions ever take 
place in that department ; if there is a certain 
quantity of nebulous matter to be agglomerated 
and divided and set in motion as a planetary 
system, it will be so with hair's-breadth accuracy, 
and cannot be otherwise. But the laws presiding 
over meteorology, life, and mind, are necessarily 
less definite, as they have to produce a great 
variety of mutually related results. Left to act 
independently of each other, each according to its 
separate commission, and each with a wide range 
of potentiality to be modified by associated con- 
ditions, they can only have effects generally bene- 
ficial : often there must be an interference of one 
law with another, often a law will chance to operate 
in excess, or upon a wrong object, and thus evil 


will be produced. Thus, winds are generally use- 
ful in many ways, and the sea is useful as a means 
of communication between one country and 
another; but the natural laws which produce 
winds are of indefinite range of action, and some- 
times are unusually concentrated in space or in 
time, so as to produce storms and hurricanes, by 
which much damage is done ; the sea may be by 
these causes violently agitated, so that many barks 
and many lives perish. Here, it is evident, the 
evil is only exceptive. Suppose, again, that a boy, 
in the course of the lively sports proper to his age, 
suffers a fall which injures his spine, and renders 
him a cripple for life. Two things have been 
concerned in the case : first, the love of violent 
exercise, and second, the law of gravitation. Both 
of these things are good in the main. In the rash 
enterprises and rough sports in which boys en- 
gage, they prepare their bodies and minds for the 
hard tasks of life. By gravitation, all moveable 
things, our own bodies included, are kept stable 
on the surface of the earth. But when it chances 
that the playful boy loses his hold (we shall say) 
of the branch of a tree, and has no solid support 
immediately below, the law of gravitation unre- 
lentingly pulls him to the ground, and thus he is 


hurt. Now it was not a primary object of gravita- 
tion to injure boys ; but gravitation could not but 
operate in the circumstances, its nature being to 
be universal and invariable. The evil is, there- 
fore, only a casual exception from something in 
the main good. 

The same explanation applies to even the most 
conspicuous of the evils which afflict society. War, 
it may be said, and said truly, is a tremendous 
example of evil, in the misery, hardship, waste of 
human life, and mis-spending of human energies, 
which it occasions. But what is it that produces 
war? Certain tendencies of human nature, as 
keen assertion of a supposed right, resentment of 
supposed injury, acquisitiveness, desire of admira- 
tion, combativeness, or mere love of excitement. 
All of these are tendencies which are every day, 
in a legitimate extent of action, producing great 
and indispensable benefits to us. Man would be 
a tame, indolent, unserviceable being without 
them, and his fate would be starvation. War, 
then, huge evil though it be, is, after all, but the 
exceptive case, a casual misdirection of properties 
and powers essentially good. God has given us 
the tendencies for a benevolent purpose. He has 
only not laid down any absolute obstruction to 


our misuse of them. That were an arrangement 
of a kind which he has nowhere made. But he 
has estabhshed many laws in our nature which 
tend to lessen the frequency and destructiveness 
of these abuses. Our reason comes to see that 
war is purety an evil, even to the conqueror. 
Benevolence interposes to make its ravages less 
mischievous to human comfort;, and less destructive 
to human life. Men begin to find that their more 
active powers can be exercised with equal gratifi- 
cation on legitimate objects ; for example, in over- 
coming the natural difficulties of their path through 
life, or in a generous spirit of emulation in a line 
of duty beneficial to themselves and their fellow- 
creatures. Thus, war at length shrinks into a 
comparatively narrow compass, though there cer- 
tainly is no reason to suppose that it will be at any 
early period, if ever, altogether dispensed with, 
while man's constitution remains as it is. In con- 
sidering an evil of this kind, we must not limit 
our view to our own or any past time. Placed 
upon the earth with faculties prepared to act, but 
inexperienced, and with the more active propen- 
sities necessarily in great force to suit the con- 
dition of the globe, man . was apt to misuse his 
powers much in this way at first, compared with 


what he is Ukely to do when he advances into a 
condition of civilization. In the scheme of provi- 
dence, thousands of years of frequent warfare, all 
the so-called glories which fill history, may be only 
an exception to the general rule. 

The sex passion in like manner leads to great 
evils ; but the evils are only an exception from 
the vast mass of good connected with this affection. 
Providence has seen it necessary to make very 
ample provision for the preservation and utmost 
possible extension of all species. The aim seems 
to be to diffuse existence as widely as possible, to 
fill up every vacant piece of space with some sen- 
tient being to be a vehicle of enjoyment. Hence 
this passion is conferred in great force. But the 
relation between the number of beings, and the 
means of supporting them, is only on the footing 
of general law. There may be occasional discre- 
pancies between the laws operating for the mul- 
tiplication of individuals, and the laws operating 
to supply them with the means of subsistence, and 
evils will be endured in consequence, even in our 
own highly favoured species. But against all these 
evils, and against those numberless vexations which 
have arisen in all ages from the attachment of the 
sexes, place the vast amount of happiness which 


is derived from this source — the basis of the whole 
circle of the domestic affections, the sweetening 
principle of life, the prompter of all our most 
generous feelings, and even of our most virtuous 
resolves — and every ill that can be traced to it is 
but as dust in the balance. And here, also, we 
must be on our guard against judging from what 
we see in the world at a particular era. As reason 
and the higher sentiments of man's nature increase 
in force, this passion is put under better regulation, 
so as to lessen many of the evils connected with 
it. The civilized man is more able to give it due 
control; his attachments are less the result of 
impulse ; he studies more the weal of his partner 
and offspring. There are even some of the resent- 
ful feelings connected in early society with love, 
such as hatred of successful rivalry, and jealousy, 
which almost disappear in an advanced stage of 
civilization. The evils springing, in our own 
species at least, from this passion, may therefore 
be an exception mainly peculiar to a particular 
term of the world's progress, and which may be 
expected to decrease greatly in amount. 

With respect, again, to disease, so prolific a 
cause of suffering to man, the human constitution 
is merely a complicated but regular process in 


electro-chemistry, which goes on well, and is a 
source of continual gratification, so long as nothing 
occurs to interfere with it injuriousl}^, but which 
is liable every moment to be deranged by various 
external agencies, when it becomes a source of 
pain, and, if the injury be severe, ceases to be 
capable of retaining life. It may be readily ad- 
mitted that the evils experienced in this way are 
very great ; but, after all, such experiences are no 
more than occasional, and not necessarily frequent 
— exceptions from a general rule of which the 
direct action is to confer happiness. The human 
constitution might have been made of a more 
hardy character ; but we always see hardiness and 
insensibility go together, and it may be of course 
presumed that we only could have purchased this 
immunity from suifering at the expense of a large 
portion of that delicacy in which lie some of our 
most agreeable sensations. Or man's faculties might 
have been restricted to definiteness of action, as is 
greatly the case with those of the lower anij^als, 
and thus we should have been equally safe from 
the aberrations which lead to disease ; but in that 
event we should have been incapable of acting to 
so many different purposes as we are, and of the 
many high enjoyments which the varied action of 
R 3 


our faculties places in our power : we should not, 
in short, have been human beings, but merely on 
a level with the inferior animals. Thus, it appears, 
that the very fineness of man's constitution, that 
which places him in such a high relation to the 
mundane economy, and makes him the vehicle of 
so many exquisitely delightful sensations — it is 
this which makes him liable to the sufferings of 
disease. It might be said, on the other hand, that 
the noxiousness of the agencies producing disease 
might have been diminished or extinguished ; but 
the probability is, that this could not have been 
done without such a derangement of the whole 
economy of nature as would have been attended 
with more serious evils. For example — a large class 
of diseases are the result of effluvia from decaying 
organic matter. This kind of matter is known 
to be extremely useful, when mixed with earth, 
in favouring the process of vegetation. Sup- 
posing the noxiousness to the human constitu- 
tion done away with, might we not also lose that 
important quality which tends so largely to increase 
the food raised from the ground? Perhaps (as 
has been suggested) the noxiousness is even a 
matter of special design, to induce us to put away 
decaying prganic substances into the earth, where 


they are calculated to be so useful. Now man has 
reason to enable him to see that such substances 
are beneficial under one arrangement, and noxious 
in the other. He is, as it were, commanded to 
take the right method in dealing with it. In point 
of fact, men do not always take this method, but 
allow accumulations of noxious matter to gather 
close about their dwellings, where they generate 
fevers and agues. But their doing so may be re- 
garded as only a temporary exception from the 
operation of mental laws, the general tendency of 
which is to make men adopt the proper measures. 
And these measures will probably be in time uni- 
versally adopted, so that one extensive class of 
diseases will be altogether or nearly abolished. 

Another large class of diseases spring from mis- 
management of our personal economy. Eating to 
excess, eating and drinking what is noxious, dis- 
regard to that cleanliness which is necessary for 
the right action of the functions of the skin, want 
of fresh air for the supply of the lungs, undue, 
excessive, and irregular indulgence of the mental 
affections, are all of them recognised modes of 
creating that derangement of the system in which 
disease consists. Here also it may be said that a 
limitation of the mental faculties to definite mani- 


festations {yulgo, instincts) might have enabled us 
to avoid many of these errors ; but here again we 
are met by the consideration that, if we had been 
so endowed, we should have been only as the 
lower animals are, wanting that transcendently 
higher character of sensation and power, by which 
our enjoyments are made so much greater. In 
making the desire of food, for example, with us an 
indefinite mental manifestation, instead of the defi- 
nite one, which it is amongst the lower animals, the 
Creator has given us a means of deriving far greater 
gratifications from food (consistently with health) 
than the lower animals appear to be capable of. 
He has also given us reason to act as a guiding 
and controlUng power over this and other propen- 
sities, so that they may be prevented from be- 
coming causes of malady. We can see that excess 
is injurious, and are thus prompted to moderation. 
We can see that all the things which we feel 
inclined to take are not healthful, and are thus 
exhorted to avoid what are pernicious. We can 
also see that a cleanly skin and a constant supply 
of pure air are necessary to the proper perform- 
ance of some of the most important of the organic 
functions, and thus are stimulated to frequent 
ablution, and to a right ventilation of our parlours 


and sleeping apartments. And so on with the 
other causes of disease. Reason may not operate 
very powerfully to these purposes in an early state 
of society, and prodigious evils may therefore have 
been endured from disease in past ages ; but these 
are not necessarily to be endured always. As 
civilization advances, reason acquires a greater 
ascendancy ; the causes of the evils are seen and 
avoided ; and disease shrinks into a comparatively 
narrow compass. The experience of our own 
country places this in a striking light. In the 
middle ages, when large towns had no police regu- 
lations, society was every now and then scourged 
by pestilence. The third of the people of Europe 
are said to have been carried oif by one epidemic. 
Even in London the annual mortality has greatly 
sunk within a century. The improvement in 
human life, which has taken place since the con- 
struction of the Northampton tables by Dr. Price, 
is equally remarkable. Modern tables still shew a 
prodigious mortality among the young in all civi- 
lized countries — evidently a result of some preva- 
lent error in the usual modes of rearing them. 
But to remedy this evil there is the sagacity of 
the human mind, and the sense to adopt any re- 
formed plans which may be shewn to be necessary. 


By a change in the management of an orphan 
institution in London, during the last fifty years, 
an immense reduction in the mortality took place. 
We may of course hope to see measures devised 
and adopted for producing a similar improvement 
of infant life throughout the world at large. 

In this part of our subject, the most difficult 
point certainly lies in those occurrences of disease 
where the afflicted individual has been in no degree 
concerned in bringing the visitation upon himself. 
Daily experience shews us infectious disease 
arising in a place where the natural laws in respect 
of cleanliness are neglected, and then spreading 
into regions where there is no blame of this kind. 
We then see the innocent suffering equally with 
those who may be called the guilty. Nay, the 
benevolent physician who comes to succour the 
miserable beings whose error may have caused the 
mischief, is sometimes seen to fall a victim to it, 
while many of his patients recover. We are also 
only too familiar with the transmission of diseases 
from erring parents to innocent children, who, ac- 
cordingly suffer, and perhaps die prematurely, as it 
were for the sins of others. After all, however 
painful such cases may be in contemplation, they 
cannot be regarded in any other light than as ex- 


ceptions from arrangements, the general working 
of which is beneficial. 

With regard to the innocence of the suffering 
parties, there is one important consideration which 
is pressed upon us from many quarters, namely — 
that moral conditions have not the least concern 
in the working of these simply physical laws. 
These laws proceed with an entire independence 
of all such conditions, and desirably so, for other- 
wise there could be no certain dependence placed 
upon them. Thus it may happen that two persons 
ascending a piece of scaffolding, the one a virtuous, 
the other a vicious man, the former, being the less 
cautious of the two, ventures upon an insecure 
place, falls, and is killed, while the other, choosing 
a better footing, remains uninj ured. It is not in what 
we can conceive of the nature of things, that there 
should be a special exemption from the ordinary 
laws of matter, to save this virtuous man. So it might 
be that, of two physicians, attending fever cases, 
in a mean part of a large city, the one, an excellent 
citizen, may stand in such a position with respect 
to the beds of the patients as to catch the infection, 
of which he dies in a few days, while the other, a 
bad husband and father, and who, unlike the other, 
only attends such cases with selfish ends, takes 


care to be as much as possible out of the stream of 
infection, and accordingly escapes. In both of 
these cases man's sense of good and evil — his faculty 
of conscientiousness — would incline him to destine 
the vicious man to destruction and save the virtuous. 
But the Great Ruler of Nature does not act on 
such principles. He has established laws for the 
operation of inanimate matter, w^hich are quite 
unswerving, so that when we know them, we have 
only to act in a certain way with respect to them, 
in order to obtain all the benefits and avoid all the 
evils connected with them. He has likewise estab- 
lished moral laws in our nature, which are equally 
unswerving, (allowing for their wider range of 
action,) and from obedience to which unfailing 
good is to be derived. But the two sets of laws 
are independent of each other. Obedience to each 
gives only its own proper advantage, not the ad- 
vantage proper to the other. Hence it is that 
virtue forms no protection against the evils con- 
nected with the physical laws, while, on the other 
hand, a man skilled in and attentive to these, but 
unrighteous and disregardful of his neighbour, is 
in like manner not protected by his attention to 
physical circumstances from the proper conse- 
quences of neglect or breach of the moral laws. 


Thus it is that the innocence of the party suf- 
fering for the faults of a parent, or of any other 
person or set of persons, is evidently a considera- 
tion quite apart from that suffering. 

It is clear, moreover, from the whole scope of 
the natural laws, that the individual, as far as the 
present sphere of being is concerned, is to the 
Author of Nature a consideration of inferior 
moment. Everywhere we see the arrangements 
for the species perfect ; the individual is left, as it 
were, to take his chance amidst the melee of the 
various laws affecting him. If he be found inferiorly 
endowed, or ill befalls him, there was at least no 
partiality against him. The system has the fair- 
ness of a lottery, in which every one has the like 
chance of drawing the prize. 

Yet it is also to be observed that few evils are 
altogether unmixed. God, contemplating appa- 
rently the unbending action of his great laws, has 
established others which appear to be designed to 
have a compensating, a repairing, and a consoling 
effect. Suppose, for instance, that, from a defect 
in the power of development in a mother, her 
offspring is ushered into the world destitute of 
some of the most useful members, or blind, or 
deaf, or of imperfect intellect, there is ever to be 


found in the parents and other relatives, and in 
the surrounding public, a sympathy with the suf- 
ferer, which tends to make up for the deficiency, 
so that he is in the long run not much a loser. 
Indeed, the benevolence implanted in our nature 
seems to be an arrangement having for one of its 
principal objects to cause us, by sympathy and 
active aid, to remedy the evils unavoidably suffered 
by our fellow-creatures in the course of the opera- 
tion of the other natural laws. And even in the 
sufferer himself, it is often found that a defect in 
one point is made up for by an extra power in 
another. The blind come to have a sense of 
touch much more acute than those who see. 
Persons born without hands have been known to 
acquire a power of using their feet for a number 
of the principal offices usually served by that 
member. I need hardly say how remarkably 
fatuity is compensated by the more than usual 
regard paid to the children born with it by their 
parents, and the zeal which others usually feel to 
protect and succour such persons. In short, we 
never see evil of any kind take place where there 
is not some remedy or compensating principle 
ready to interfere for its alleviation. And there 


can be no doubt that in this manner suffering of 
all kinds is very much relieved. 

We may, then, regard the globes of space as 
theatres designed for the residence of animated 
sentient beings, placed there with this as their first 
and most obvious purpose — namely, to be sensible 
of enjoyments from the exercise of their faculties 
in relation to external things. The faculties of 
the various species are very different, but the hap- 
piness of each depends on the harmony there may 
be between its particular faculties and its parti- 
cular circumstances. For instance, place the small- 
brained sheep or ox in a good pasture, and it fully 
enjoys this harmony of relation; but man, having 
many more faculties, cannot be thus contented. 
Besides having a sufficiency of food and bodily 
comfort, he must have entertainment for his intel- 
lect, whatever be its grade, objects for the domestic 
and social affections, objects for the sentiments. 
He is also a progressive being, and what pleases 
him to-day may not please him to-morrow ; but, 
in each case he demands a sphere of appropriate 
conditions in order to be happy. By virtue of his 
superior organization, his enjoyments are much 
higher and more varied than those of any of the 


lower animals ; but the very complexity of circum- 
stances affecting him renders it at the same time 
unavoidable, that his nature should be often in- 
harmoniously placed and disagreeably affected, and 
that he should therefore be unhappy. Still un- 
happiness amongst mankind is the exception from 
the rule of their condition, and an exception which 
is capable of almost infinite diminution, by virtue 
of the improving reason of man, and the expe- 
rience -which he acquires in working out the 
problems of society. 

To secure the immediate means of happiness it 
would seem to be necessary for men first to study 
with all care the constitution of nature, and, 
secondly, to accommodate themselves to that con- 
stitution, so as to obtain all the realizable advan- 
tages from acting conformably to it, and to avoid all 
likely evils from disregarding it. It will be of no 
use to sit down and expect that things are to 
operate of their own accord, or through the direc- 
tion of a partial deity, for our benefit; equally so 
were it to expose ourselves to palpable dangers, 
under the notion that we shall, for some reason, 
have a dispensation or exemption from them : we 
must endeavour so to place ourselves, and so to 
act, that the arrangements which Providence has 


made impartially for all may be in our favour, and 
not against us ; such are the only means by v/hich 
we can obtain good and avoid evil here below. 
And, in doing this, it is especially necessary that 
care be taken to avoid interfering with the like 
efforts of other men, be3^ond what may have been 
agreed upon by the mass as necessary for the 
general good. Such interferences, tending in any 
way to injure the body, property, or peace of a 
neighbour, or to the injury of society in general, 
tend very much to reflect evil upon ourselves, 
through the re- action which they produce in the 
feelings of our neighbour and of society, and also 
the offence which they give to our own conscien- 
tiousness and benevolence. On the other hand, 
when we endeavour to promote the efforts of our 
fellow-creatures to attain happiness, we produce a 
re-action of the contrary kind, the tendency of 
which is towards our own benefit. The one 
course of action tends to the injury, the other to 
the benefit of ourselves and others. By the one 
course the general design of the Creator towards 
his creatures is thwarted; by the other it is 
favoured. And thus we can readily see the most 
substantial grounds for regarding all moral emo- 
tions and doings as divine in their nature, and as 


a means of risino; to and communing: with God. 
Obedience is not selfishness, which it would other- 
wise be — it is worship. The merest barbarians 
have a glimmering sense of this philosophy, and 
it continually shines out more and more clearly in 
the public mind, as a nation advances in intelli- 
gence. Nor are individuals alone concerned here. 
The same rule applies as between one great body 
or class of men and another, and also between 
nations. Thus if one set of men keep others in 
the condition of slaves — this being a gross injustice 
to the subjected party, the mental manifestations 
of that party to the masters will be such as to mar 
the comfort of their lives; the minds of the masters 
themselves will be degraded by the association 
with beings so degraded; and thus, with some 
immediate or apparent benefit from keeping slaves, 
there will be in a far greater degree an experience 
of evil. So also, if one portion of a nation, engaged 
in a particular department of industry, grasp at 
some advantages injurious to the other sections of 
the people, the first effect will be an injury to those 
other portions of the nation, and the second a 
re-active injury to the injurers, making their guilt 
their punishment. And so when one nation 
commits an aggression upon the property or rights 


of another, or even pursues towards it a sordid 
or ungracious policy, the effects are sure to be 
redoubled evil from the offended party. All of 
these things are under laws which make the effects, 
on a large range, absolutely certain ; and an indi- 
vidual, a party, a people, can no more act unjustly 
with safety, than I could with safety place mj^ leg 
in the track of' a coming wain, or attempt to fast 
thirty days. We have been constituted on the 
principle of only being able to realize happiness 
for ourselves when our fellow -creatures are also 
happ3^ ; we must therefore both do to others only 
as we would have others to do to us, and endea- 
vour to promote their happiness as well as our 
own, in order to find ourselves truly comfortable 
in this field of existence. These are words which 
God speaks to us as truly through his works, as if 
we heard them uttered in his own voice from 

It will occur to every one, that the system here 
unfolded does not imply the most perfect con- 
ceivable love or regard on the part of the Deity 
towards his creatures. Constituted as we are, 
feeling how vain our efforts often are to attain 
happiness or avoid calamity, and knowing that 
much evil does unavoidably befall us from no fault 


of oursj we are apt to feel that this is a dreary 
view of the Divine economy ; and before we have 
looked farther, we might be tempted to say, Far 
rather let us cling to the idea, so long received, 
that the Deity acts continually for special occasions, 
and gives such directions to the fate of each indi- 
vidual as he thinks meet ; so that, when sorrow 
comes to us, we shall have at least the consolation 
of believing that it is imposed by a Father who 
loves us, and who seeks by these means to accom- 
plish our ultimate good. Now, in the first place, 
if this be an untrue notion of the Deity and his 
ways, it can be of no real benefit to us ; and, in 
the second, it is proper to inquire if there be 
necessarily in the doctrine of natural law any 
peculiarity calculated materially to affect our 
hitherto supposed relation to the Deity. It may 
be that, while we are committed to take our 
chance in a natural system of undeviating opera- 
tion, and are left with apparent ruthlessness to 
endure the consequences of every collision into 
which we knowingly or unknowingly come with 
each law of the system, there is a system of Mercy 
and Grace behind the screen of nature, which is 
to make up for all casualties endured here, and 
the very largeness of which is what makes these 


casualties a matter of indifference to God. For 
the existence of such a system, the actual consti- 
tution of nature is itself an argument. The 
reasoning may proceed thus : The system of 
nature assures us that benevolence is a leadinar 


principle in the divine mind. But that system is 
at the same time deficient in a means of making 
this benevolence of invariable operation. To 
reconcile this to the recognised character of the 
Deity, it is necessary to suppose that the present 
system is but a part of a whole, a stage in a Great 
Progress, and that the Redress is in reserve. 
Another argument here occurs — the economy of 
nature, beautifully arranged and vast in its extent 
as it is, does not satisfy even man's idea of what 
might be ; he feels that, if this multiplicity of 
theatres for the exemplification of such phenomena 
as we see on earth were to go on for ever unchanged, 
it would not be worthy of the Being capable of 
creating it. An endless monotony of human gene- 
rations, with their humble thinkings and doings, 
seems an object beneath that august Being. But 
the mundane economy might be very well as a 
portion of some greater phenomenon, the rest of 
which was yet to be evolved. It therefore appears 
that our system, though it may at first appear at 


issue with other doctrines in esteem amongst 
mankind, tends to come into harmony with them, 
and even to give them support. I would say, 
in conclusion, that, even where the two above 
arguments may fail of effect, there may yet be a 
faith derived from this view of nature sufficient to 
sustain us under all sense of the imperfect happi- 
ness, the calamities, the woes, and pains of this 
sphere of being. For let us but fully and truly 
consider what a system is here laid open to view, 
and we cannot well doubt that we are in the hands 
of One who is both able and willing to do us the 
most entire justice. And in this faith we may 
well rest at ease, even though life should have 
been to us but a protracted disease, or though 
every hope we had built on the secular materials 
within our reach were felt to be melting from our 
grasp. Thinking of all the contingencies of this 
world as to be in time melted into or lost in the 
greater system, to which the present is only sub- 
sidiary, let us wait the end with patience, and be 
of good cheer. 



Thus ends a book, composed in solitude, and 
almost without the cognizance of a single human 
being, for the sole purpose (or as nearly so as may 
be) of improving the knowledge of mankind, and 
through that medium their happiness. For reasons 
which need not be specified, the author's name is 
retained in its original obscurity, and, in all pro- 
bability, will never be generally known. I do 
not expect that any word of praise which the 
work may elicit shall ever be responded to by 
me ; or that any word of censure shall ever 
be parried or deprecated. It goes forth to take 
its chance of instant oblivion, or of a long and 
active course of usefulness in the world. Neither 
contingency can be of any importance to me, 
beyond the regret or the satisfaction which may 
be imparted by my sense of a lost or a realized 


benefit to my fellow-creatures. The book, as far 
as I am aware, is the first attempt to connect the 
natural sciences into a history of creation. The 
idea is a bold one, and there are many circum- 
stances of time and place to render its boldness 
more than usually conspicuous. But I believe my 
doctrines to be in the main true ; I believe all 
truth to be valuable, and its dissemination a bless- 
ing. At the same time, I hold myself duly sensible 
of the common liability to error, but am certain 
that no error in this line has the least chance of 
being allowed to injure the public mind. There- 
fore I publish. My views, if correct, will most 
assuredly stand, and may sooner or later prove 
beneficial ; if otherwise, they will as surely pass 
out of notice without doing any harm. 

My sincere desire in the composition of the 
book was to give the true view of the history of 
nature, with as little disturbance as possible to 
existing beliefs, whether philosophical or religious. 
I have made little reference to any doctrines of 
the latter kind which may be thought inconsistent 
with mine, because to do so would have been to 
enter upon questions for the settlement of which 
our knowledge is not yet ripe. Let the recon- 
ciliation of whatever is true in my views with 


whatever is true in other systems come about in 
the fulness of calm and careful inquiry. I cannot 
but here remind the reader of what Dr. Wiseman 
has shewn so strikingly in his lectures, how different 
new philosophic doctrines are apt to appear after 
we have become somewhat familiar with them. 
Geology at first seems inconsistent with the 
authority of the Mosaic record. A storm of un- 
reasoning indignation rises against its teachers. 
In time, its truths, being found quite irresistible, 
are admitted, and mankind continue to regard the 
Scriptures with the same respect as before. So also 
with several other sciences. Now the only objec- 
tion that can be made on such ground to this book, 
is, that it brings forward some new hypotheses, 
at first sight, like geology, not in perfect har- 
mony with that record, and arranges all the rest 
into a system which partakes of the same character. 
But may not the sacred text, on a liberal inter- 
pretation, or with the benefit of new light re- 
flected from nature, or derived from learning, be 
shewn to be as much in harmony with the novelties 
of this volume as it has been with geology and 
natural philosophy ? What is there in the laws of 
organic creation more startling to the candid theo- 
logian than in the Copernican system or the 


natural formation of strata? And if the whole 
series of facts is true, why should we shrink from 
inferences legitimately flowing from it ? Is it not 
a wiser course, since reconciliation has come in so 
many instances, still to hope for it, still to go on with 
our new truths, trusting that they also will in time 
be found harmonious with all others? Thus we 
avoid the damage which the very appearance of an 
opposition to natural truth is calculated to inflict 
on any system presumed to require such support. 
Thus we give, as is meet,. a respectful reception tq 
what is revealed through the medium of nature, at 
the same time that we fully reserve our reverence 
for all we have been accustomed to hold sacred, 
not one tittle of which it may ultimately be found 
necessary to alter. 


T. C. Savin, Printer, 107, St. Martin's -La«e. 

Date Due 






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